Marqise Lee: Breaking Down His 2014 NFL Draft Prospects

Adam Williams@awill2319Correspondent IApril 28, 2014

USC wide receiver Marqise Lee makes a catch during a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy

Despite his ever-falling draft stock, Marqise Lee is still a very good wide receiver.

In just one year, Lee went from being a Heisman Trophy candidate and projected top-5 pick to a player who will likely be selected towards the end of the first round in this May's NFL Draft.

This fall was largely thanks to injuries, quarterback changes and a revolving door at the head coaching spot at USC, all of which contributed to Lee's decline in production, in the 2013 season. 

However, through all of that, Marqise Lee is still regarded by every expert NFL analyst as one of the top-five available wide receivers in this year’s draft class.

His body of work in college is extremely impressive, and he possesses all of the qualities to become a No. 1 receiver on an NFL team. 

Lee made an immediate impact as a freshman in 2011, when he was named Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Co-Player of the Year.

He started eight-of-12 games that season and finished with 73 receptions for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with 10 kickoff returns and a 28.5 yard return average.

As a sophomore in 2012, Lee burst onto the scene and made himself known as arguably the best receiver in the country.

He finished with 118 catches for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns, ended up taking home the Biletnikoff Award and was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year.

Although Lee's production dropped off in his junior campaign, he was still the Trojans' leading receiver in 2013 despite missing three games due to knee and shin injuries, managing 57 catches for 791 yards and four touchdowns.

Marqise Lee is a very athletic receiver that excels in making plays after the catch. He slips through traffic over the middle, has excellent acceleration and burst and can run by and around defenders.

He is a fluid route runner with a high football IQ and has a good feel for defensive coverage—both man and zone.

Lee is extremely competitive and has a tremendous work ethic.

While his NFL combine time was disappointing (4.52 forty-yard dash), game tape shows he can break away from defenders with a great burst and quickness after the catch.

Although he is only 6’0” tall, Lee plays more like he is 6’3” or 6’4” because of his long arms and leaping ability. And while his 190 pound frame may not break many tackles, he makes up for that with his versatility not only as a receiver, but as a returner.

Beyond his skills on the field, fans—not just of the team that ends up selecting Lee, but sports fans in general—should get to know his background, as it is truly amazing that he got to be playing on the field today, and it shines a light on the person he is.

ESPN aired a mini-documentary chronicling Lee’s journey.

Both of Lee's biological parents are deaf, and he became fluent in sign language in order to communicate with them.

When he was very young, Lee was taken away from his mother and placed in foster care, living in motels with different families until high school when he was adopted by the family of one of his teammates and friends.

Before being adopted, Lee had innocently followed his brothers. One of which died because of a gang-related shooting, and the other was sent to jail.

Through all of the trials and tribulations he has faced, it is still a rare sight to see Lee without a smile on his face.

The perseverance, resilience and toughness instilled in him from those experiences has undoubtedly shaped the person and player he has become—someone with a phenomenal work ethic that does not take anything for granted.

Even Jamie Foxx had nice things to say about Mr. Lee after watching the documentary.


At the end of the day, Marqise Lee is going to get drafted somewhere in the first round.

Teams that are strongly considering him include the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers among a couple of others.

Lee is a dynamic playmaker who has the motivation and the potential to become a great weapon on the next level.

Despite an injury plagued 2013, it is widely believed that he can get back to his 2012 form where he was awarded the trophy for the nation’s best wide receiver.

Lee is certainly not new to adversity, and expect him to overcome his current obstacles and shine as a dynamic and exciting receiver in the NFL, regardless of what team he goes to.