Marqise Lee’s looks are truly deceiving. At just 6 feet tall, 195 pounds, the USC junior wideout rates as one of the smallest players on the big board in this year’s NFL draft.
But scouts everywhere agree you’d be hard pressed to find a more rugged or determined draft-eligible player then the former Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation’s top receiver. Lee spent a large part of his youth as a ward of the state and by the time he was a teenager saw one brother killed in a gang-related shooting and another imprisoned for committing the same offense.
For a while, Lee lived with his grandparents, but when his grandfather passed away while he was still a teenager he again soon found himself back in foster care. Through all those dark times, Lee promised himself that if he could just survive, one day he would find a way to prosper at whatever it was he was guided to do.
Soon, the Inglewood, Ca. native found a way to channel all his anger and let go of all the self-pity. And now, the 22-year-battle tested star stands as the player NFL draft analyst Bucky Brooks predicts “will be the best receiver in the draft” when all is said and done.
“He has the ability to score from anywhere on the field,” Brooks added. “There are few people that can do what he does with the ball in his hands, and I’m including Sammy Watkins and Brandon Coleman and all these other receivers. I believe he is a little different than everyone else.”
And for anyone yet unconvinced, Lee offered his seven catch, two touchdown Las Vegas Bowl showing against Fresno State as Exhibit A. “You saw the Marqise Lee that lit up everyone in 2012,” raved Brooks. “I think he has the ability to be a difference-maker for any team in any role at the next level.”
Indeed, it was shades of 2012 during USC’s 45-20 beatdown of Fresno, a time when Lee’s 118 catch, 14 touchdowns season put him on the map in terms of big time receivers and had then Coach Lane Kiffin predicting he could become the best receiver in Trojan’s storied history.
ESPN’s Todd McShay now pegs Lee as a top 15 pick and Scouts Inc. ranks him only behind Watkins among receivers. Wherever he goes or whenever he’s selected, Lee wants NFL owners to know his injury-riddled junior season (just 57 catches and 791 yards) is a thing of the past and the questions it raised among some about his durability really shouldn’t be an issue.
“I try not to show any of it,” Lee told reporters of his never-ending to prove he belongs. “Keeping it all in is only motivating me to do what I need to do to get all these things done.”
NFL.com predicts the Rams, Raiders, Lions, Ravens, Chiefs, Panthers and Seahawks could all be in the market for a receiver in the first round.