Position: Outside Linebacker
Weight: 228 pounds
School: Ohio State Buckeyes
Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash: 4.47 seconds (best among linebackers)
Bench press (225 pounds): 17 reps
Broad jump: 11 feet, 1 inch
Darron Lee 2016 NFL Draft Profile
Roger Goodell is going to be saying three words quite frequently on day one of the draft: Ohio State University. It’s very possible that the Buckeye program could set a record for most players drafted in the first round. Darron Lee is one of those players expected to be in the mix. The New Albany, OH native was one of nine OSU non-seniors to declare for the draft after their Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame.
Lee came to Columbus as a less-heralded three-star recruit who redshirted his first season. But in 2014 he quickly emerged as one of the top freshmen in the nation. He proved to be an essential part of OSU’s stingy and bruising defense, tallying 16.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Only star defensive end Joey Bosa had more in each category. In the Buckeyes 42-35 victory over Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal, Lee had three TFLs and two sacks which led the team. He collected freshman all-American honors for his efforts.
A year later, he would continue to remain among the Big Ten’s best linebackers. He was named to both the Associated Press All-American and all-conference second teams. Lee would lead all Buckeye players in forced fumbles on a defense that finished among the top ten nationally in yards per game allowed. And the manner in which he blossomed from an under-appreciated high school prospect to a likely first round pick is impressive indeed.
- possesses above-average speed and athleticism.
- has the physical tools in place to be a versatile playmaker on defense.
- fluid and free hips allow him added ability to wrap up ball-carrier in tight spaces.
- phenomenal change of pace and lateral shiftiness that can confuse blockers at point of attack.
- comfortable dropping into coverage when needed.
- excels at hitting the gaps efficiently in blitz situations.
- strong work ethic and immense competitive drive.
- a tad undersized for the position at NFL level; will need to bulk up.
- tends to let blockers dictate physicality on running plays.
- can get overwhelmed by downhill running offensive linemen.
- takes poor pursuit angles at times.
- tackling technique needs to use more body and less arms.
- struggles to wrap up opposing runners leading to broken tackles.
- drop-off in production in 2015 from standout 2014 season could be a concern.
NFL Comparison: Thomas Davis, Panthers
Teams with Need at Position: Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers
Projection: late first to early second round
Quite a few teams are in need of upgrades at outside linebacker heading into 2016. The fact that Lee is among the most highly rated prospects at this position means his services will be in high demand. Having a defense that can create havoc on the perimeter is essential if you want to contend in this league. Just look at the impact players such as Von Miller for the Broncos and Thomas Davis for the Panthers had this year. Those teams made it all the way to the Super Bowl in part due to solid defensive pressure coming from the outside. Lee has the potential to do similarly special things at the next level just like he did for the Scarlet and Gray. Even though he needs to add a bit more muscle to his frame, he projects well at the next level and should go day one.