Previously, I looked back at the predraft scouting reports of all 2017 Jets rookies to earn significant playing time. With that class in the books, let’s rewind the clock one year and start looking back at the scouting reports of the 2016 Jets draft class.
We’ll start with the 20th pick of the 2016 draft, Darron Lee. Here is a look at the positives of his scouting report, as seen on NFL.com:
Quick to diagnose and flow to the ball. Has unusual ability to find the most efficient routes to the ball. Has athleticism and flexibility to contort his body and succeed through difficult tackle angles. Plays with loose hips, quick feet and desired agility of an NFL weak-side linebacker. Former high school quarterback with the change of direction and speed to be a rangy playmaker. Comfortable in space and excels there. Has plus man cover talent. Willing to stand in and take on blockers with a leveraged strike if his gap is being threatened. Capable gap blitzer with ability to get skinny through the holes.
What seems right?
- Yikes. I don’t want to be overly harsh, but there is little from this section I saw from Lee on a weekly basis over the past two years. Is he athletic? Sure, I guess. He doesn’t look like a slug out there, but would any NFL athlete look like one at that raw age? Because, I don’t think he’s a speed demon either. Really, the only part of this I can agree with is that he looks to have somewhat above-average athleticism, but I can’t agree on elite.
What seems off?
- “Quick to diagnose and flow to the ball. Has unusual ability to find the most efficient routes to the ball” - In year one, Lee could not do these things. He had more moments of smart play in year two, but he still struggles to consistently do exactly what this scouting report says he was good at doing; finding quick, efficient routes to the football.
- “Comfortable in space and excels there. Has plus man cover talent.” No and no, in my opinion. His man coverage ability, though the Jets have thrown him a lot of difficult cover assignments over David Harris and Demario Davis, has not yielded positive results. In space, he takes poor angles and isn’t a great finisher.
- “Willing to stand in and take on blockers with a leveraged strike if his gap is being threatened.” I’m not sure about this either. Lee doesn’t seem like a very physical linebacker, and he too often is responsible for leaving gaping holes up the middle.
Smallish linebacker. Play strength doesn’t come close to matching puffed up listed weight. Balance issues at point of attack could plague him over his NFL career. Has the body type of a big safety. Tape shows few authoritative tackles. Involved in too many arm and shoestring tackles. Comes flying in and fails to come to balance at times. Charged with 21 missed and five broken tackles over the last two seasons. Always at size disadvantage and will have to learn to slip more blocks. Can get better at finding targets in zone coverage.
What seems right?
- All of these weaknesses seemed to still plague Lee in 2017. He is absolutely small for the position. I would agree he is less physical than ideal. “Tape shows few authoritative tackles. Involved in too many arm and shoestring tackles.” - I definitely think his ratio of crushing tackles to whiffs is bad. Really, this entire section can still apply if you were writing a report on Lee’s NFL profile.
What seems off?
- I can’t disagree with anything in this section.
Poll choice: Choice 2 (He is the player I thought he was, but fell short of performance expectations)
All of the question marks surrounding Lee on draft day have been issues throughout his NFL career, and they have held him back from utilizing his best traits to their fullest potential. He is definitely the kind of player I thought the Jets were getting; an athletic, but undersized linebacker who takes on a lot of coverage responsibilities. He just hasn’t developed as quickly as hoped.
I will say that I thought Darron Lee took a step forward this year. Specifically in the middle of the year, he had a stretch of games where he really seemed to be putting it together. His 2017 was overall better than his 2016, but it was a case of moving from awful to less awful. He still needs to get better with his recognition, coverage, and tackling. He has solid athleticism for the position and has showcased the ability to string some solid games together. Can he overcome his size deficiency and become a disciplined enough player to complete a full season of quality play? Still only 23 years old, Lee was a very young prospect who has had a lot on his plate early in his career. He’s entering year three, though. It’s time for him to learn from all of those early experiences and start producing like a first-round pick, since that title alone isn’t going to buy him playing time much longer.
Is Darron Lee the kind of player you thought he was?
This poll is closed
Yes, he’s what I expected skillset-wise, and beat my expectations performance-wise
Yes, he’s what I expected skillset-wise, but fell short of my expectations performance-wise
He’s the type of player I thought he was and performed almost exactly as well as I expected
No, he’s not what I expected skillset-wise, but in a good way; he beat my performance expectations
No, he’s not the style of player I thought he was, and he is also worse than I thought