Among the many surprises at the 2014 NFL draft on Thursday was Marqise Lee dropping right out of the first round. He didn't last very long in the second round, however, as the Jacksonville Jaguars finally ended his slide with the No. 39 pick.
Bleacher Report NFL shared the news:
While Lee had a bit of a disappointing season in 2013, finishing with 57 receptions for 791 yards and four touchdowns, injuries and plenty of upheaval at USC seemed to be the main reason for his decreased production, especially since he accumulated 191 receptions for 2,864 yards and 25 touchdowns in his first two years.
According to injury expert Will Carroll of Bleacher Report, however, it was that injury that precipitated his fall:
Another draftee that fell significantly is Marqise Lee. Several teams scared of his knee. Source I spoke with said "half the league is out."— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) May 9, 2014
Lee sprained his MCL. It was not repaired, which is common, but worry is that it made him more susceptible to further injury.— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) May 9, 2014
Clearly, though, the Jags weren't terribly concerned. And with Justin Blackmon suspended indefinitely, wide receiver was clearly a huge need for Jacksonville. Add it all up, and Lee likely will see the field plenty in 2014, as Adam Caplan of ESPN tweets:
#Jaguars add WR Marqise Lee, who should start right away.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) May 9, 2014
Pete Prisco of CBS certainly applauded the move:
This is a good pick for the Jags. Lee had first-round talent. Bortles has to be happy. GRADE: B+ http://t.co/KPxAyHqyNs— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) May 9, 2014
Michael Tanier of Sports on Earth likes the trio of receivers the Jags have to work with now:
Lee, Cecil Shorts, and Ace Sanders make a pretty solid possesion-speed-slot trio #Jaguars— Michael Tanier (@MikeTanier) May 9, 2014
Of course, how much better would they be if Blackmon was around for a full season?
Meanwhile, Will Brinson of CBS thinks Lee could be the Offensive Rookie of the Year:
Marqise Lee could be the 2014 Keenan Allen— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) May 9, 2014
The Jaguars needed a downfield threat. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Lee might just provide one:
USC QBs completed 39.7% of passes thrown 20+ yds to Marqise Lee last season. Jags had the 3rd-fewest completions of 20+ yds in 2013 #JAXpick— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 9, 2014
The Jags certainly weren't the only team interested in Lee when he dropped into the second round. Far from it, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweeted:
And heck, a year ago it would have been hard to imagine him being available on Day 2 at all, as Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated noted:
Imagine if someone had told you last summer that Bortles would be JAX's FIRST round pick and Lee its SECOND round.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) May 9, 2014
While many folks would imagine Blake Bortles was quite excited with this selection—and perhaps excited about the new young duo in the passing game—not every analyst was thrilled with the pick. Brad Evans of Yahoo! Sports was one of the cynics of the new pair:
Marqise Lee goes to the Jags, naturally. Bortles-to-Lee the new Gabbert-to-the-nearest-defensive-back.— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) May 9, 2014
And Cian Fahey of Bleacher Report noted there were differing opinions on Lee, depending on whom you asked:
Lots of media guys on my TL are talking about how Marqise Lee is the steal of the draft. A lot of the tape guys think he's gone too high.— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) May 9, 2014
Still, this feels like a great move for the Jags. Lee is one of the more NFL-ready receivers in this draft class and should instantly upgrade the passing game. His lack of production in his junior season can be largely attributed to poor quarterback play as much as anything else.
Turn on his sophomore tape, and this is a kid with top talent. The Jaguars will be hoping that player shows up and produces for them for the next decade.