Pros, Cons, and a Summary of Darron Lee
- 4.47 speed, ridiculous for a LB
- Laterally quick, explosive first step
- Tremendous in space, very agile, change of direction ability
- Good in man-to-man coverage, can keep up with RB’s, TE’s and many WR’s too
- Quality pass rusher
- Sideline to sideline pursuit ability
- Has a ton of range
- Severely undersized for a LB, 6’1, 232 lbs.
- Lacking physicality, does not bode well against contact
- Weak at the point of attack, often gets pushed around or knocked over
- Will try to go around blocks instead of taking them on
- Can take poor angles to ball carrier
- No feel for zone coverage
- Not a read and react player, very indecisive
- Struggles to disengage from blocks/stack and shed
Lee was a safety in High School and converted to LB during his freshman year at Ohio State, and it shows.
His film can be explained very simply. Times when Lee was able to operate in space or get free run and showcase his athleticism, he looked great. But basically any other time, it was rough to say the least.
The vast majority of positive plays on film were either because Lee was unblocked, and/or largely thanks to his athleticism. In regard to the second part of that, Lee’s athleticism is certainly a plus, but it’s one of the few positive traits that he possesses.
As far as the rest of his game goes, the film and the cons section basically sum him up.
Lee has 1st round athleticism and 5th round film. I’d maybe, maybe, take him in the 3rd round depending on which players were still on the board. But most likely, I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking him until the 4th.
He needs to improve significantly in several major areas, and is a big-time project player. He’ll flash a few nice plays from time to time when he has a clear, unblocked path to the football, where his athleticism can really show. But he isn’t going to be able to do most of the things you need a linebacker to do.
Lee is a mixed back in coverage. He can be very good in man-to-man thanks to his athleticism, but bigger TE’s will most certainly give him trouble. Lee doesn’t seem to have much feel for zone coverage, often positioning himself poorly or not tracking pass-catchers in his area very well.
In Oakland, he might be able to be a little more productive due to how good the defensive line is. Similar to Ohio State, he’d be able to get a lot of free run, and really just use his athleticism to fly around the field. But if a situation arises where he has to take on a blocker or make a play that requires any type of physicality, you can forget about it.
Of course, NFL strength & conditioning programs do help, and it should benefit Lee as well. But he’s already so far behind in this regard, that he has a ton of catching up to do. And not only that, but his mentality would need to change as well. Too often, he tries to go around blocks instead of through them, and he’s really just not interested in contact. That mentality might change if he got stronger, but that’s part of the reason why he’s such a project.
So it’s safe to say I was really underwhelmed when I dug in deeper, and I would be terribly disappointed if Lee was the pick at #14, and even #44 for that matter.