After a disappointing junior year marred by nagging injuries and a dysfunctional USC program holding him back, Marqise Lee entered the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine with something to prove.
He left as a strong candidate to be selected in the first round.
Remember, Lee was a favorite to go in the top end of the 2014 draft after a 2012 campaign in which he recorded more than 100 receptions, 1,700 receiving yards and scored 14 times.
He caught 57 passes for 791 yards and four scores as a junior before declaring for the draft. Statistics are far from the only thing that matters, but Lee's stock took an incredible hit as a result.
However, the combine revitalized Lee in the minds of many.
|Height||Weight||Arm length||Hand size||40-yard dash||Bench press||Broad jump||Vertical Jump||Shuttle|
|6'0"||192 pounds||31 3/4"||9 1/2"||4.52||N/A||127 inches||38 inches||4.01|
Vertical Jump: 38 Inches
At 6'0" and 192 pounds, Lee entered the combine with some work to do in order to separate himself from other larger receivers, especially since so many such as Texas A&M's Mike Evans measured in taller than 6'3".
Lee came up big in the vertical jump with an impressive 38-inch mark. As a drill that actually translates well to on-field play, Lee's number is an encouraging sign as it displays his strong ability to climb the ladder and grab the ball at its highest point.
Broad Jump: 127 Inches
Scouts knew going into the combine that Lee was explosive in and out of his cuts, and that drive was on full display thanks to his impressive broad jump number.
Again, Lee is will not blow many away with his physical measurements, but his ability to post strong numbers in drills meshes well with his game tape.
40-Yard Dash: 4.52 Seconds
The most popular drill of all was arguably the most important on the day for Lee, who often had his critics over the course of his collegiate career thanks to his perceived speed. Lee spent time since declaring for the combine by working on the drill, but did not sound overly confident a few days before the event, as he told Gary Klein of The Los Angeles Times:
"You feel like everything is perfect, that you've got everything down," Lee said, laughing and pointing toward the start line. "Once you step over there, everything changes."
Lee's first dash was strange, as CBS Sports Will Brinson points out:
While many were surprised at the "poor" number by Lee, he has never been known as a burner with impressive straight-line speed. Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News put it best:
There was even speculation that Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carrol was disappointed with Lee's first time:
Regardless, Lee did much better on his second run thanks to a 4.44 time as Rotoworld's Evan Silva details:
Lee ended up with an official 4.52, but it is not a number that dooms his stock by any means.
Lee was on fire during the field drills.
He had a pretty catch on a short out as he went out of bounds. The deep ball was a challenge, but something he was able to adjust to. He also caught every pass on the challenging gauntlet drill despite some poor throws that disrupted his stride.
Lee even had the highlight grab of the day as he contorted his body mid-air to reel in an inaccurate pass.
In other words, things went as expected.
Lee did exactly what was expected of him at the combine in all facets. Those who have watched him play know straight-line speed was not something that would be a highlight of his day.
But Lee has sure hands, alarming game speed and an overall athleticism that makes him a complete package. He used the combine to simply get back on the radar of each team in the NFL after a miserable final year at USC that allowed him to become a bit of a sleeper.
Lee is a candidate to come off the board near the bottom of the first round, and at worst, he will not make it to the middle of the second round. This has been known for years—the 2014 combine just reaffirmed Lee's stock.
Note: All info courtesy of NFL.com unless otherwise specified.