Darron Lee

Maybe the best linebacker in the draft (although right now not the projected first of them to go off the board) is Darron Lee of Ohio State, who’ll probably have the Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans monitoring his situation closer than anyone.

Lee, second-team All-Big Ten last season, is 6’1, had just two years with the Buckeyes before deciding it’s time to go. He was fantastic as redshirt freshman in 2014, finishing with 6.5 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss in 15 games, including maybe his best: The Sugar Bowl (CFP semifinal) against Alabama,  receiving Defensive MVP honors with seven tackles, three for loss, and two sacks. He had a very good sophomore year with 4.5 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss, adding an interception which was brought back for a touchdown.

He’s a smart player who recognizes a developing play quickly, and also finds the shorts way to the ball and the player with it most of the time. He is capable of making some difficult tackles and his past as a high school quarterback helps him in many ways, including his very impressive coverage abilities, although defenses usually use him for more electrifying purposes. All that will probably land him somewhere around the 15th pick, probably a bit later.

Lee would have been considered a top 10 pick (like Leonard Floyd out of Georgia) if he would have been bigger. His size is an issue, and some think of him as more fitting of a big safety than a pass rushing linebacker. This probably means he’ll end up playing on the weakside of a defense, but if he adds some muscle and pounds on his body, he’ll be much more than a three-down starter for an NFL team. His initial success probably depends on what type of scheme he’ll be put in, although with his ability to blitz and cover, he shouldn’t have too much of a problem anyway.

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