Following a disappointing junior season, USC wide receiver Marqise Lee was out to prove he's a first-round talent at the Trojans' pro day on Wednesday.
Despite sitting out the most popular pro day drill of all, Lee was able to showcase his athleticism through a variety of workouts. But much like his performance at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine last month, Lee failed to wow.
After running a 4.52-second 40-yard dash at the combine, Lee opted to skip the straight-line speed test on Wednesday, per The Orange County Register's Rich Hammond:
Seems as though Marqise Lee, Dion Bailey and Silas Redd are not running the 40 at Pro Day. Their choice.— Rich Hammond (@RegisterUSC) March 12, 2014
Although Lee's speed is one of his biggest assets, scouts and coaches will be more concerned with his game speed and how he performs with pads and a helmet.
But Lee was also able to do something he didn't do at February's combine by literally flexing his muscles en route to recording 11 repetitions on the bench press, per Fox Sports' Lindsey Thiry:
Receiver Marqise Lee benched 225lbs 11 times at #USC pro day. Did not bench at combine.— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) March 12, 2014
That number isn't going to blow anyone away but it's unlikely to impact his draft stock. As a 6'0", 192-pound wide receiver, upper-body strength will never be Lee's best trait, nor is it all that critical given his position.
In addition to the bench, Lee showcased some of his burst and agility in the cone drill. Here's a look at how he fared, courtesy of Los Angeles Daily News' Scott Wolf:
Lee appeared to have some trouble in his second shuttle run, per Hammond:
After lifting, running and cutting, Lee participated in wide receiver drills where he put his soft hands and concentration to the test.
Marqise Lee getting warmed up for WR drills at @USCProDay pic.twitter.com/rVBJofbrOu— WeAreSC.com (@wearescstaff) March 12, 2014
NFL media analyst Charles Davis, who considers Lee to be among the most overlooked players available this spring, is one of several talking heads who are high on Lee ahead of May's draft:
Lee could be the best receiver available in a draft that includes intriguing pass catchers like [Sammy] Watkins, Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin, who should all have their names called before the end of Round One. These are rare talents, but I've been on the Lee bandwagon a long time and I didn't hop off it as he battled injuries during the 2013 season.
Despite exploding for 118 receptions, 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012, injuries, quarterback changes and a midseason coaching switch led to a lackluster 2013 campaign in which Lee reeled in just 57 passes for 791 yards and four touchdowns.
Lee admitted the lack of stability was an obstacle but stopped short of making excuses, per CBS Sports' Jeremy Fowler: "It's kind of tough, two years being with one quarterback and having to switch to another, but we're just working."
Though his stock took a hit over the course of 2013, Lee has said and done all the right things since and leading up to May's NFL draft. By showing up and performing at the combine and USC's pro day, the first-round prospect has provided all 32 NFL teams with an excellent look at what he brings to the table from a physical standpoint.
Will Marqise Lee be a 1st-round pick in 2014?
No, he didn't post any eye-popping numbers, but the ability to separate from defenders and make plays in a game is much more important in the NFL than having track-star speed or bodybuilder strength.
While there are still concerns about the knee injury he suffered last season and a lackluster 40-yard-dash time at the combine, his physical abilities on the gridiron, his big-play threat and next-level potential are too good to pass up.
He may not be the first wide receiver off the board, but you can bet he'll be among the first to go.
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