Jacksonville Jaguars: Expectations for Marqise Lee


Drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft, Marqise Lee had a modest start to his pro career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Long Beach California native hauled in 37 passes for 422 yards and one touchdown while playing in 13 games last year.

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Heading into year two, what can Jags’ fans expect to see from the 23 year-old former USC Trojan? I went back and reviewed the coaches film of Lee’s rookie season to find some clues. The first thing that jumped out to me was Lee’s speed and quickness in the open field. To the naked eye, Lee appears much faster than his 4.52 pre-draft 40 yard dash time.

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It does not take Marqise Lee more than a few strides before he reaches top speed. Lee has electrifying athletic ability that can be used to turn short pass plays into huge gains. Not only does Lee demonstrate excellent speed and quickness with the ball in his hands, but he also flashes these skills when running his passing routes.

In addition, Lee appears to have great body control and sharp footwork which allows him to get in and out of his breaks before defenders have a chance to react. In late season matchups against the Giants, Texans, and Titans, Lee enjoyed great success with short in-breaking and out-breaking routes.

I also think Marqise Lee’s upper body strength is better than his 195 pound frame would suggest. Lee does a nice job of hand fighting at the line of scrimmage and breaking loose from bump and run coverage.

Despite Jacksonville’s struggles as a team last year, I thought Lee’s enthusiasm and passion for the game was also positive sign. After most of Lee’s catches, he was very excitable and tried to get his teammates fired up without going overboard. This shows me that Lee is a fierce and intense competitor regardless of the situation.

Dec 18, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Marqise Lee (11) and Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan (91) and cornerback Coty Sensabaugh (24) and safety George Wilson (21) and linebacker Avery Williamson (54) react after a pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter at EverBank Field. The Jaguars defeated the Titans 21-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As is the case with most young players, Lee does has room for improvement in key areas. I was surprised to find out that the explosive youngster failed to register a single catch of at least 40 yards last year. Jacksonville’s weak offensive line could be partly to blame as deeper pass patterns obviously need better protection in order to execute.

I also feel that the chemistry between Lee and fellow rookie Blake Bortles was slow in developing. Bortles and Lee showed flashes together as the season progressed, but I noticed some very inaccurate misses and some miscommunications that led to overthrown and underthrown balls.

Nov 2, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) looks on during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the biggest reason for Lee and Bortles not being on the same page is Lee’s history of nagging injuries. According to a Jacksonville.com report from Ryan O’Halloran Lee missed three games and valuable practice time last year because of a hamstring injury. So far this off-season, Lee has sustained a knee injury, an ankle injury, and also suffered another hamstring injury as well.

With Lee expected to miss the next two weeks of training camp, it is no wonder that he has fallen behind the pace of fellow second year receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. In fact, Lee was an inconsistent performer in training camp even before his latest injury setback. According to another Jacksonville.com report from Hays Carlyon, the second year receiver has reportedly battled through a case of butter fingers and has looked fatigued during his limited practice time this off-season.

It is hard to ignore the pattern developing with Marqise Lee and his inability to stay on the field. Last year, Lee participated in only 492 of the Jaguars’ 1,037 offensive snaps. I like the skill set that Lee brings to the table, but it is hard for me to project a breakout season for an oft-injured young receiver that is rapidly falling down the depth chart. At season’s end, I project a maximum of 600 receiving yards for Marqise Lee.

Next: Jacksonville Jaguars: Expectations for Denard Robinson

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