Marqise Lee had a huge game on Saturday night at the Las Vegas Bowl against the Fresno State Bulldogs. Lee and the USC Trojans were 45-20 winners to finish their season on a winning note. Lee had seven receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns on the day.
As impressive as that sounds, the stat line must be put into the proper perspective. The Bulldogs' pass defense is ranked just 118th in the nation. Considering Lee had as many touchdown receptions against the Bulldogs as he had all season, this game obviously doesn't accurately represent his entire season.
The six-foot junior wide receiver had a disappointing year statistically in 2013, after exploding for 118 catches, 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore. He finished the season with 57 receptions, 791 yards and four touchdowns. Had he been in the 2013 NFL draft, he might have been a top-10 pick—or higher.
His stock would appear to have fallen for the 2014 draft. In his defense, he has battled injuries that forced him to miss three games. Also, Lee had to deal with the confusion created once head coach Lane Kiffin was fired midseason.
Lee fell four receptions shy of becoming the Trojans' all-time leader—despite his big game against the Bulldogs. At one time, attaining this mark seemed like a foregone conclusion.
As of now, Bleacher Report's own NFL draft guru Matt Miller has Lee slated to go 19th to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2014 draft. Miller has Clemson standout Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M star Mike Evans ahead of Lee.
While Lee still has the blazing speed and playmaking ability to be a major force on the next level, he doesn't have the wow factor and buzz he did this time last season. He and Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler never seemed to find the same chemistry that the he enjoyed with Matt Barkley.
Even with the bad breaks Lee has been dealt, he could still wow NFL teams during private workouts and at the NFL combine—if he even decides to make the jump to the pros. He is just a junior, so theoretically he can return to school.
If Saturday's game was his last, Lee has had a stellar career and is set up to enjoy success on the next level.
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