Marqise Lee traveled to New York expecting to hear his name called on the first day of the 2014 NFL Draft, but as the festivities of Thursday night wound down, Lee found himself on the outside looking in. At one point it looked as if the Seattle Seahawks, led by former Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, might draft Lee, but they traded their No. 32 pick to Minnesota (which subsequently picked QB Teddy Bridgewater).
That being the case, Lee will have to wait until Friday’s second round to hear his name called.
Lee and OL Marcus Martin were the two Trojans in the best position to get drafted high, so with neither of them being selected, no Trojans were taken in the first round.
Expected to be among the top picks after his outstanding sophomore season, Lee saw his draft stock drop through an injury-plagued junior year. In 2013, he missed three games and was slowed for most of the season, though he still earned an All-Pac-12 honorable mention.
Lee’s stock was not helped by a lackluster appearance at the NFL combine, where his 4.52 mark in the 40-yard dash was met with disbelief, though that time can be explained away by a nagging knee injury. Of greater concern, is Lee’s apparent lack of durability which could limit his pro potential. At the NFL level, his ability to take punishment from defenders has been questioned.
Still, anyone who watched Lee play in the cardinal and gold cannot deny his talent. A combination of speed, agility and strong route running earned him more than his share of accolades and should all translate to the pros. Between his dynamic athleticism and excellent work ethic, Lee could turn out to be one of the biggest bargains in the draft.
Lee heads to the NFL as USC’s career leader in reception yards with 3,655 yards. His 248 career catches trail Robert Woods’ school record by just four. Both of those numbers are fourth all-time in the Pac-12. In all, the 2012 Biletnikoff Award winner and unanimous All-American owns or shares 24 Trojan records.