Eagles Draft Target: WR Marqise Lee

Eagles Draft Target: WR Marqise Lee

Where do the Eagles need improvement?

January 19, 2014, 9:00 am
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Wide receiver Marqise Lee (right) compiled 29 TDs in three seasons at USC. (USA Today Images)

Each Sunday beginning today we'll examine a potential pick for the Eagles -- first round or otherwise. We'll start with one of the top wide receivers in the draft.

Marqise Lee
Position: WR
Height/Weight: 5-11, 195
School: Southern Cal

When it comes to play-making prospects available in the 2014 NFL draft, there are very few players more dynamic and who possess the game-breaking talent of Marqise Lee. Just a year ago, Lee was recognized as the nation's most outstanding wide receiver when he won the Biletnikoff Award, amassing 118 receptions for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns.

What a difference a year makes.

Struggling through nagging injuries and a transition to a new quarterback, Lee had a down year statistically this past season, when he caught 57 passes for 791 yards and four touchdowns. But most NFL decision-makers won't be overly concerned with Lee's drop in production because they know how special he is as a prospect and the unfortunate circumstances he dealt with at USC.

While Lee's durability and production may concern some scouts, he still has the scouting combine as well as individual workouts and interviews to impress and enhance his stock as a potential top-10 pick.

With the Eagles holding the 22nd overall selection, it's possible that Lee could be off the board before they make their pick. But if he happens to fall into their lap or they trade up to select him, he has the skill set that would fill one of the Eagles' most pressing needs.

Strengths
Lee is an exceptional talent with the ability to impact a game every time the ball is in his hands. With an ability to be utilized on the perimeter and in the slot, he's a defensive coordinator's nightmare.

He forces opponents to play back on their heels with his quick release off the line, ability to work in space and a tendency to collect yards after the catch. He displays good awareness, works well with his quarterback and is often an available target, showcasing a promising skill set to become an elite receiver. He possesses a great sense of timing, attacks the ball at its highest point and has a knack for the acrobatic.

Weaknesses
While Lee plays much bigger than his listed size suggests, some teams may prefer a receiver larger in stature. This year's draft features some imposing receivers who can out-muscle defenders on the perimeter, and that could force Lee to fall in the first round.

More of a space player than a polished route-running receiver at this point in his development, Lee is still multi-dimensional. That's attractive to teams at the next level, but it could also lead to durability concerns in the future. Lee injured his left knee on a punt return against Arizona State this past season, which forced him to miss three games.

How he'd fit with the Eagles
The Eagles have a lot of decisions to make at the wide receiver position this offseason, and it's likely that two of the top four receivers (DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Jason Avant) on their depth chart will not be back in 2014. With that said, addressing the receiver position early in the draft should be a high priority for the Eagles.

In terms of scheme fit, Lee would be perfect in Chip Kelly's offense -- an offense that's based on tempo, spacing and getting the ball in the hands of its playmakers. In many ways, Kelly's scheme is an extreme hybrid of the West Coast Offense, in which Lee starred at Southern Cal and also projects best in at the next level.

From a skill set standpoint, Kelly would salivate over the addition of Lee, with whom he's very familiar from his days at Oregon, where he witnessed first-hand the kind of havoc Lee can wreak on a game. In two career contests against the Kelly-led Ducks, Lee hauled in 20 receptions for 344 yards and three touchdowns.

Kelly is the type of personality who doesn't forget very easily. It's not far-fetched to think he remembers those performances vividly and is enthralled with the idea of Lee reuniting with Matt Barkley and working in his offense.

Prospect reflection: Lee Evans (Wisconsin), 2004: First round (13th overall) by the Buffalo Bills

Draft projection: 1st Round (top 10-20)