2014 NFL Draft: Marqise Lee going pro with eye on first round

Marqise Lee has proven everything he can on the college level
Marqise Lee is No. 17 overall prospect in our ratings. (USATSI)

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USC junior wide receiver Marqise Lee will bypass his senior year and enter the 2014 NFL, he announced via his Twitter account Friday night.

Lee is ranked as the No. 3 draft-eligible wide receiver and the No. 17 prospect overall by NFLDraftScout.com. He ranks just behind Clemson’s Sammy Watkins and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans among the wide receivers. Lee didn’t have the 2013 season most expected due to a knee injury that caused him to miss three games, but Lee leaves the Trojans with several school receiving records.

Listed at 6-0, 195, Lee has average height and a lanky build, but his athleticism and playmaking ability with the ball are why he’s viewed as a first round prospect. He tracks the ball well and does a nice job elevating to attack it in the air. Lee is a gliding athlete with fluid movements, using his ankle flexion and joint flexibility to elude tacklers and be dangerous after the catch. He has the body control and focus to make some impressive grabs, but he’ll also drop too many easy ones.

Despite missing three games and parts of several others, Lee still led the Trojans in receptions (57) this season, but he had only four scores. He set several records last season as a sophomore when he finished with 118 catches for 1,721 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

The biggest question mark for Lee as scouts project him to the next level might be the durability of his left knee. Is it a lingering issue or will it be at full health by NFL training camp? Those questions will be answered at the Combine when Lee goes through the medical process of the pre-draft gauntlet.

With Watkins and Evans projected as top-20 picks in the first round, Lee is a tad underrated after a quiet junior season. But he is still very much in the first round discussion.

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