Posts Tagged ‘ Heisman ’

Five Impressions From Week One of the 2013 College Football Season

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Week one of the college football season is in the books, and a lot happened.  It started with North Carolina heading to Williams Bryce, and ended last night with the Jameis Winston show in Pittsburgh.  I spent most of my Saturday huddled around a big screen, two laptops, and an ipad, and now it’s time to recap.  So without further ado, here are my five lasting impressions from week one of the 2013 college football season.

5. Alabama Is Not Unbeatable….

But they’re still probably the best team in the nation.  Saturday night Alabama began their title defense, and quest for a three peat in Atlanta against Virginia Tech.  While Alabama won the game comfortably by a score of 35-10, anyone who watched the game would know the final score didn’t tell the whole story.  The Crimson Tide had luck on their side Saturday, scoring 21 points from Defensive or Special Teams touchdowns.  Even more alarming were the warts that the “unbeatable” team showed, most notably on the Offensive Line.  Left Tackle Cyrus Kouandjio has been heralded as a potential top ten pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but he looked less than comfortable on Saturday.  He and is brother Left Guard Arie Kouandjio were beaten several times pretty badly, resulting in unwanted pressure for Quarterback AJ McCarron.  McCarron struggled to deal with the pressure, completing under 50% of his passes.  He looked less like the Quarterback who can win games, and much more like the Quarterback who started his career at Alabama being asked to not lose them.  Still, this team is too talented, and their coach is too good to spend much time worrying.  I fully expect them to correct the issues, but the giant that everyone thought Alabama was may be more of a taller than average man when compared to the likes of LSU, Florida State, Texas A&M and others.

4. Johnny Football Just Doesn’t Get It….

And maybe never will.  After a Summer that saw Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel constantly in the news, you would think he would want to tone things down a bit now that he’s back to football.  You would be wrong.  After a summer of eyes on him for the wrong reason Manziel found himself in an unusual position to start Saturday, on the bench.  Manziel was suspended for the first half of the Aggies game vs Rice after he was found to have signed thousands of autographs for brokers.  Again, you would think he would want to stay out of the limelight now.  Again, you would be wrong.  It didn’t take long for Manziel to make an impact both on the scoreboard, and in the headlines.  Manziel played well helping his team pull away, but it was his actions after the play that will be remembered.  Johnny Football used some questionable celebrations, including making the gesture of signing an autograph, and a hand motion to suggest he needs more money.  He was also penalized for taunting the opposition after he got into it with a Rice player following a touchdown.  His actions were so disruptive that his coach pulled him out of the game after the penalty.  Manziel is quick to remind everyone he’s still a kid whenever criticism comes, but he’s acting like a spoiled brat on the field.  The pressure and spotlight will only increase from week one, so it will be interesting to see how he handles it.

3. The Spread & High Tempo Offenses Will Ruin Games….

But not for the reason you think.  Two things really frustrated me from the first week of college football.  I’ll cover the second in a moment, but the first was the defensive “strategy” to tempo offenses.  I’m referring to defensive players doing their best soccer dives on the field, faking injuries in order to buy their teammates time.  It’s disgusting, despicable and unfortunately unavoidable.  That is unless the officials take control.  I watched the majority of the games on Saturday, and on numerous occasions it appeared as though defenders were faking injuries to slow down the offense.  This was most notable in the late night California versus Northwestern clash, where I saw almost ten “injuries” that I thought were pretty questionable by Northwestern players.  The problem is, it worked like a charm, disrupting the flow of the offense and taking Cal Freshman QB Jared Goff out of his rhythm.  Honestly, I don’t blame coaches for using this tactic, it works.  But that’s where the official comes in.  It’s their job to question the coaches and the validity of the high number of minor injuries.  They have to take control, and make a coach feel like this is no longer an option to disrupt the offense.  Not only do they need to question coaches, but in some cases they need to penalize.  Will it happen?  Hopefully.  If not, watching teams like Cal, Oregon, North Carolina and any other spread or tempo based team will become a lot less enjoyable.

2. The Targeting Rule Will Too…

Because it’s a joke of a rule and won’t be consistently enforced.  If you’ve been living under a rock, or don’t live football 24/7 365 like I do, you may have missed a major rule change.  Beginning this year, players will risk ejection for “targeting” a defenseless player.  This has already been applied several times this season.  In one instance they got it right.  A Defensive Back for Oregon launched himself into the Nicholls State Quarterback as he was sliding.  He hit the QB in the helmet, knocking him out of the game.  He was rightfully flagged, and ejected from the game.  However just several hours later they got it incredibly wrong in the already mentioned California and Northwestern game.  Early in the fourth quarter of the home game against Northwestern, Defensive End Chris McCain was penalized for a hit on the Quarterback.  Not only was the call a roughing the passer 15 yard penalty, but McCain was promptly ejected from the game.  McCain’s hit was far from an ejection worthy penalty though.  In fact, it was probably closer to a legal clean hit, then it was worthy of being sent to the locker room early.  The play should have been reviewed, but it wasn’t due to a failure in the system.  Due to this McCain won’t be suspended for the first half of this weeks game, but it doesn’t make the issue go away.  Giving officials the power to eject a player for what they believe is targeting is a risky business.  Not only that, but what happens when a targeting situation occurs in a big game?  Let’s say Alabama versus Texas A&M in week three for instance.  Does anyone actually believe a player is getting kicked out of that game?

1. Jameis Winston’s First Start Was Good….

Really, really good.  I’m not one to jump to conclusions based on a first impression, but it’s hard not to be impressed with what Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Jameis Winston did for the Seminoles last night.  Winston was electric last night, completing 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns.  He also added 25 yards and another touchdown on the ground.  It wasn’t just the numbers though, it was all the things that don’t show up in the box score for the young QB too.  His pocket awareness, his decision making, his command on the field, he just looked like a much more seasoned Quarterback then he is.  We may not see just how legit Winston is until mid October when the Seminoles face Clemson.  That will be the first time Winston plays a quality opponent in the unfriendly confines of Death Valley (just ask Aaron Murray how welcome Clemson made him feel).  Still, his performance last night was incredible, amazing, insane, unreal, otherworldly, and any other ridiculous adjective you can come up with to describe it.  With a schedule loaded with inferior opposition to pile stats against, a Heisman trophy for Winston may not be out of the question.  Still he’s a Redshirt Freshman making his first career start, so I’ll be gentle on the gas of the Jameis Winston bandwagon for a few more weeks.

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The Best of the Best: Jadeveon Clowney

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Tale of the Tape

6’6″

275 lbs

Career Numbers

90 total tackles

35.5 tackles for a loss

21 sacks

8 forced fumbles

3 passes broken up

We’ve finally made it.  College football is just one day away, which means it’s time for the top player in my Best of the Best.  It should come as no surprise to anyone that the player is South Carolina Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney.  He’s without a doubt the best player in college football, and he may be the best defensive prospect from an NFL standpoint in the last decade.  He’s the closest thing you can get to a “perfect prospect”, being complete in every area of the game.  Even as a 17-year-old Senior in High School Clowney was so good that you could see top pick potential in him.  Now four years later he’s only gotten better, and barring a team needing a Quarterback that bad will almost certainly be the number one overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.  So now it’s time to take a look at what makes Clowney THE Best of the Best.

Athleticism

  • Clowney is an incredible athlete, and this shows up in a lot of ways on the field.  He’s a great speed rusher, getting around the edge with ease.  He’s shows good ability to pursue not only sideline to sideline, but also down field.  He even shows the ability to completely embarrass blockers by leaping over them.       Image
  • On this play we’ll see Clowney force the Quarterback to evacuate the pocket.  Image
  • Clowney does a good job getting to the Quarterback in the backfield, but Michigan’s Devin Gardner is athletic enough in his own right to escape Clowney initially and scramble down field.                                 Image
  • Here we’ll see Gardner is in space, and Clowney looks to be having trouble maintaining his balance.  It doesn’t look like Clowney is going to be able to make a play.                                                                                       Image
  • But as the play ends, it’s Clowney that gets down field and is able to bring down Gardner before the damage is even worse.  Gardner was slowed slightly by a couple of Gamecock’s players before Clowney made contact, but it’s still a tremendous individual effort.                             Image
  • On this play we’ll again see good down field pursuit from Clowney as he chases down the ball carrier.                                                     Image
  • Clowney does a good job reading the direction of the play, and disengages quickly in order to pursue the ball carrier.                      Image
  • Clowney shows great athleticism being able to launch himself in a diving tackle attempt, and pull the Running Back down for a moderate gain.  Without Clowney’s play this may have been a significant yardage play.                Image
  • On this play, Clowney shows excellent sideline to sideline ability in pursuit of the highlighted Wide Receiver’s end around.         Image
  • Clowney does an excellent job not biting on the Running Back’s fake, reading the play as an end around from the start.               Image
  • Clowney shows great acceleration closing on the ball carrier, and taking away his angle to the second level.                            Image
  • Even though Clowney doesn’t make the initial stop, he’s right there showing just how fast he can get from one side of the field to the other.          Image
  • Here we’ll see an even better example of Clowney’s down field pursuit against LSU.  As the play begins Clowney runs a stunt, and will pressure the Quarterback.                                                                      Image
  • However LSU has the screen called, and the QB gets the pass to the Running Back who has blockers in front of him.                         Image
  • The back is able to miss a couple of Gamecock defenders miss, but Clowney still hasn’t given up on the play.                          Image
  • The result of the play is a first down, but it would have been an even bigger gain without Clowney’s incredible effort pursuing the screen.

Against Georgia Clowney’s athleticism was on complete display as he leaped over the blockers several time in order to get into the backfield.   ImageImageImage

Pass Rushing

  • Along with athleticism, Clowney is an incredible pass rusher.  He’s got a great stable of pass rushing moves, from a simple speed rush to a devastating bull rush.  He uses these moves along with great leverage to regularly get into the backfield and frustrate Quarterbacks.  Not only does he have a good arsenal of moves, his burst off the line is so good that at times he doesn’t even need them.                                                                                   Image
  • On this first play, we’ll look at a rush where Clowney is so quick out of his stance that he’s able to slip by practically untouched.  He’s going to rush between the Left Tackle and projected top 15 pick in 2014 Taylor Lewan, and the Left Guard. Image
  • Clowney gets a great initial burst off the ball, and is easily able to get between the Tackle and the Guard.  He’s going to use a subtle swim move, but it’s really not necessary with how fast he is.                                Image
  • The Offensive Lineman do eventually get their hands on Clowney, but it’s not before he’s in the Quarterback’s face and causing him to throw ball that a defender is in position to deflect.                                     Image
  • This play is actually a designed run, but it shows Clowney’s excellent swim move.  Once again he’s going to get a great burst off the line.        Image
  • He not only beats Taylor Lewan off the snap, but makes things worse by using a great swim move to get around the outside of Lewan.  This makes it impossible for Lewan to block him without grabbing the jersey and being called for a foul.  Image
  • Here’s a better look at the swim.  Clowney is able to bring his arm up and over Lewan’s inside shoulder.  With the leverage he can turn Lewan, and slide by the outside putting Lewan completely behind him.                 Image
  • Clowney now has a free lane to the ball carrier Denard Robinson and he’s easily able to finish the play off in the backfield with a big hit.          Image
  • Clowney doesn’t just use the swim to beat a man to the outside though.  He’s got a devastating inside swim move.  He’s so quick, and so powerful with it that it just leaves Offensive Tackles looking silly.                 Image
  • Here we see how easily Clowney beats Offensive Tackle Xavier Nixon off the snap.  Notice the separation Clowney already has.            Image
  • Another look shows us how lethal this pass rush move is.  Nixon is left helpless to the inside swim, and looks like he has no clue where Clowney went.Image
  • On this next play, we’ll see Clowney overpower Lewan with a powerful bull rush.  Clowney will get leverage off the snap, and be able to drive Lewan straight back into the Quarterback.                                                     Image
  • Clowney fires off the snap and immediately wins the leverage battle.  Notice how Lewan’s body is almost completely vertical, and Clowney has an arched back and his momentum is moving forward.  This creates large amounts of leverage, and allows Clowney to drive Lewan straight back.       Image
  • In order to try and stop Clowney’s rush, Lewan is forced to hold him.       Image
  • Even with the hold Clowney is able to drive Lewan straight back into the QB and force Gardner to make a hurried throw.                          Image
  • On this last rush, we’ll see Clowney use nothing but speed to get to the Quarterback and bring him down.  Clowney get’s a great burst off the line, and the Left Tackle is already in a bad spot being asked to kick out and mirror his athleticism with his feet.                                          Image
  • The Left Tackle does a pretty good job getting in front of Clowney, but his foot speed isn’t quick enough to take away the edge from the South Carolina End.  Image
  • The Running Back doesn’t do a good job chipping Clowney as he’s coming out of the backfield, and Clowney is easily able to get around the edge of the Left Tackle.                                                                                  Image
  • Once he’s around the edge the only thing left to do is finish the play with a sack, which Clowney does with ease.

Run Support

  • Clowney isn’t just a one trick pony though.  Along with excelling as a pass rusher, he’s also a very good run defender.  As already mentioned he pursues the entire field well, he’s good at sealing the edge, and he’s a strong tackler.   Image
  • On this play we’ll see Clowney seal the edge against Kentucky, and not allow the Running Back to get to the sideline.                Image
  • Once again Clowney explodes off the line, and gains the leverage advantage against the Left Tackle.  He recognizes early that the play is a pitch to the left side of the field, and begins sliding the Tackle laterally.           Image
  • With the leverage advantage he’s able to continue sliding the LT laterally, keeping himself in between the Running Back and his lane to the edge of the field.     Image
  • This forces the RB to cut back inside, where he and his teammates are there to clean up.                                            Image
  • Here we’ll see Clowney overpower a blocker to make the tackle in the backfield.  Clowney again gets an explosive burst off the snap.  He’s given a free release which allows him to build up speed.  This is going to create an extremely tough matchup for the Right Guard who is pulling to block him.             Image
  • The Guard makes contact, but Clowney is able to pretty easily overpower him on the play.                                                Image
  • Another look at the play shows us how Clowney does it.  With nothing but speed Clowney crashes into the pulling Guard.  Clowney’s forward momentum is so powerful it shocks the blocker and jolts him backwards.  This creates balance issues, and he’s able to run through the blocking attempt despite the Guard doing his best to hold Clowney.                                 Image
  • Clowney is able to easily clean up the play in the backfield.

Play Maker

  • The last thing I want to touch on, is Clowney’s ability to make big plays.  Whether it’s a critical sack, and forced fumble, or knocking the pass down, Clowney always seems to be able to make a big play when his team needs it.   Image
  • Here we’ll see Clowney’s ability to force the QB to throw the ball long before he’s ready.  Notice how well Clowney has jumped the snap.  He’s already well into his first step as the same time as the ball is being snapped.       Image
  • Clowney is easily able to beat the Left Tackle around the edge, and get pressure on the QB.  This forces the QB to to throw the ball well before he’s ready, and without his feet set.                                                        Image
  • The results are disastrous.  The ball his the Right Guard in the back and bounces in the air.  The South Carolina Defensive Tackle will intercept the ball inside the 20 yard line.  In a game where Kentucky was down by 11 with less than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter this effectively ended the game.  Image
  • The best example of his play making ability came in the form of a bone jarring tackle against an unfortunate Michigan Running Back, in a play that is simply known as “The Hit” among college football fans.  After a controversial call against the Gamecocks, Clowney comes off the edge unblocked due to a missed assignment and unloads on the back, jarring his helmet, the football, and perhaps even his body loose in the process.  For those that need a refresher, just want to see it again, or were living under a rock during the last nine months here’s the clip.
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC44nP7ClxM

Needs Work

Anything I put here will be nitpicking at best.  Clowney does practically everything better than anyone else in the nation at his position.  However there is one area of his game I would like to see him get better in as the 2013 season plays out.

Tackling In Space

  • If I had to pick out one area where Clowney could get better it would be finishing tackles in space.  As I said before this is a bit of nitpicking because he even has times where he looks very good in space.  However there are plays where it looks like Clowney has a ball carrier dead to rights, only to have an awkward looking tackle attempt be unsuccessful.  Here’s several attempts from the same game against Florida.                            ImageImageImage

Final Thoughts

Clowney is the closest thing to a complete football player you can get going into the NFL Draft.  He’s an incredible athlete, with great size and length.  He has an explosive first step that at times, makes his pass rush moves unnecessary.  When he does have to use rush moves though, he’s not lacking at all.  He’s got a great speed rush, timing the snap well and exploding around the Tackle with great hip flexibility and bend.  He routinely plays with great leverage, allowing his powerful bull rush to be effective at pushing Tackles back into the QB and collapsing the pocket.  Without a doubt the best move he has is his swim move.  He has the ability to swim both inside and outside of the tackle, something no other pass rusher shows on a regular basis.  His outside swim move is extremely effective, turning the Tackle and leaving them forced to hold or let him go by.  Even as effective as his outside swim is, his inside move is that much better.  His inside swim move is absolutely devastating, leaving Tackles looking lost and completely helpless as he gets into the backfield with ease.

Clowney is also a very skilled Defensive End in run support.  He pursues plays exceptionally well, being able to chase ball carriers sideline to sideline, and showing the ability to run them down from behind.  He seals the edge well, forcing ball carriers back inside where he and his teammates are waiting to clean up.  He also uses great power to overpower blockers into the backfield, and is able to work through the trash at the line of scrimmage with great feet.  He’s a play maker in every sense of the word, coming up with the big sack, tipped pass, or forced fumble when his team needs it most.  He also creates plays for teammates, by pressuring the QB and forcing early throws.   Nitpicking a bit, I would like to see him finish tackles in space at a more consistent rate.  Also, his spin move isn’t as strong as his other rush moves, however he uses it far too often in my opinion.  Going forward, Clowney is without a doubt the best player in college football, and will almost certainly be the top player on NFL teams Draft boards.  His skill set will be intriguing to any team, and he has the ability to be a difference maker at the position, in the mold of players like Julius Peppers and Jason Pierre-Paul.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my Best of the Best series.  Please feel free to send me any comments/critique to danguy013@gmail.com or feel free to comment/follow me on twitter @danny_g13

The Best of the Best: Marqise Lee

We’re now four days away from the beginning of the 2013 college football season, which means it’s time for part seven of my Best of the Best series.  This 10 article series will take a look at my top 10 draft eligible players in college football.  This isn’t necessarily a prediction of where I feel they will be drafted, but more my thoughts on where these 10 rank against all other college players.  While I fully expect all of these players to be top 15 draft selections next year, there could always be fluctuation with a premium placed on positions like Quarterback and Offensive Tackle.  With that said, it’s time to look at my number three prospect, USC Wide Receiver Marqise Lee.

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Tale of the Tape

6′

195 lbs

Career Numbers

191 receptions

4144 all purpose yards

27 touchdowns

Marqise Lee came to USC as a player with only one High School season of experience at the Wide Receiver position, and a player who many expected to be a standout safety.  However, he’s not just found a home at Wide Receiver, he’s turned into one of the most dangerous Weapons in college football.  Lee is an explosive play maker who is elusive, and hard to get a hand on in the open field.  He’s shows great fight for the 50-50 ball, and uses his body well to block out a defender.  He flashes the ability to be a complete receiver, however he needs to be more consistent in most areas.  So lets take a look at one of the Best of the Best, Marqise Lee.

Play Making Ability

  • Lee is a natural play maker.  He has a quick burst off the line, and is exceptional in space.  He is able to change direction fluidly fooling defenders, and shows the vision and drive to fight through space.                                                     Image
  • At the start of this play we see Lee lined up on the outside of the formation.  The DB Tony Grimes backs off providing cushion for Lee, instead of deciding to try and jam him on his release.                                   Image
  • As the play develops, Lee runs a shallow route and makes the catch around four yards past the line of scrimmage.  The defender at this point in time has good position on him to make the tackle for a short gain. Image
  • As Lee turns and sees the closing defender he immediately stabs the ground and takes his momentum back to the outside of the field.  This move causes the defender to freeze.                                                                 Image
  • With the defender now behind the play and fighting to regain position, Lee is able to break to the edge of the field.  Also of note, TE Randall Telfer has done his job on the play and is down field to block out the safety. Image
  • With the safety effectively removed from the play by Telfer, the last defender who has a chance to stop the play before it becomes a sizable gain is the original defender.  He makes a diving tackle attempt that Lee is able to run through. Image
  • Lee finishes the play demonstrating his explosiveness after the catch as he out runs all the chasing defenders to the end zone.  He also shows great control of his body, tiptoeing the sideline along the boundary. Image
  • As the play begins, Lee takes the pitch to the left and works his way to the edge. Image
  • He is able to make the defender Sutton miss in the backfield, and continues through the play. Image
  • As the defender closes in on him, Lee realizes the other side of the field is relatively open, and looks to cut the play back. Image
  • Lee makes an exceptional cut inside of the defender leaving him vulnerable to an incoming block. Image
  • He shows great strength to fight through the trash, and run through numerous tackle attempts. Image

His QB helps him out, blocking the defender with the best angle, and Lee is able to turn a loss or no gain on the play into a significant gain down field.

Explosiveness

  • Even though he doesn’t possess sub 4.4 speed, Lee is an incredibly explosive receiver.  He’s quick off the line, and once the ball is in his hands he shows the ability to take it the distance on most plays.               Image
  • At the start of this play against Arizona Lee is again given a free release by the defender who is aware of what can happen if he lets Lee get behind him. Image
  • As Lee makes the catch you can see he has six defenders in close proximity to close in and make the play, with just one blocker. Image
  • As the first defender fails in his tackle attempt Lee begins to accelerate across the field and away from the defenders. Image
  • Now Lee has really put the defense in a bad position, he’s managed to evade several of the defenders that were in position to bottle him up.  Now the only worries are the man to the left and slightly up field of him, and the safety closing in from the bottom of the screen. Image
  • The safety is able to get a hand on Lee to slow him down slightly, however Lee shows good ability to run through the tackle attempt and keep going. Image
  • With the safety now out of the picture Lee escapes towards the sideline, maintaining his distance from the chasing defenders. Image
  • Even with a defender in close proximity, he is able to maintain enough distance to finish the play for a touchdown. Image
  • Another example of his explosive ability is demonstrated in the same game against Arizona. Lee makes the catch about 12 yards down field, with a defender in decent position to make the play.                               Image
  • Lee immediately looks to turn up field.  The defender who at this time has a pretty good angle on him begins to close in. Image
  • As Lee continues up field, he accelerates quickly, and is able to out run the defenders tackling attempt. Image
  • As Lee continues to accelerate, he leaves three defenders in an impossible situation.  There is no play to be made. Image

Lee finishes the play pulling away from all players including his blocker Robert Woods, and walks into the end zone for a touchdown.

Fighting For the Play

  • Lee shows great effort on the field for 50/50 balls.  He high points the football exceptionally well in most instances, uses his body to shield defenders, and he fights through contact down field to put himself in position to make plays. Image
  • On this play we can see that an under thrown ball has put Lee out of position.  The defender is now in front of him, and is in the driver’s seat to make a play on this ball.                                                                                                  Image
  • As the play unfolds though, we can see that Lee ends up winning the match up, putting the Trojans in position to extend their lead in a huge upset win. Image
  • Another angle of the play shows us that Lee is able to time his leap and get slightly higher than the defender to make first contact with the football.  Lee finishes the play by hauling in the contested catch for a long gain inside the red zone. Image
  • On this play Lee demonstrates his ability to shield the defender on the jump ball in the end zone.  As the play begins the defender is left on an island. Image
  • The defender makes a critical mistake and does not jam Lee off the line.  This allows him to break towards the end zone uninterrupted. Image
  • Lee turns in towards the football, walling off his defender and making it almost impossible for him to make a play on the football. Image
  • Despite the defenders effort on the play, Lee has now gained position and he is able to out leap the defender and make the catch for a touchdown. Image
  • In this example we can see Lee being faced with contact very early in his route.  The defender has used a technique known as an armbar to pin Lee’s inside arm down, and slow him through his route.                 Image
  • Lee like all great receivers, continues to fight through the contact while tracking the ball through the air. Image
  • Lee is able to use his strength to break free, and instantly begins gaining separation. Image
  • Lee is able to finish the play, making the catch for a touchdown and not having to rely on the pass interference flag that was thrown. Image
  • On this last play to demonstrate Lee’s determination and effort, we will look at a touchdown Lee had against Washington.  Lee runs another simple shallow route, and turns back to his QB providing him an easy target on the four yard line. Image
  • After securing the catch, Lee immediately looks to turn up field and fight for the score. Image
  • Lee is contacted just short of the goal line, but instead of being driven backwards he stays upright and keeps his legs moving fighting to cross the plane. Image

Lee continues to fight and the result is buying enough time for his teammates to join the pile and move it across the goal line for a score.

Natural Hand Catching Ability

  • Lee flashes the natural hand catching characteristics, showing the ability to go up and pluck the football out of the air.  He has soft hands, and does well securing the catch.                                                                             Image
  • On this play you can clearly see how smooth he can look catching the ball with his hands.  The QB places the ball high, but Lee is able to time his leap correctly and put himself in position to make the play.                     Image
  • Now you see Lee show the ability to fully extend his body and pluck the ball out of the air. Image
  • Lee then finishes the play by showing off his incredible elusiveness.  He is able to evade two tacklers, and then walks into the end zone with an easy touchdown                                                                              . Image
  • On this play Lee runs a simple slant pattern.  He demonstrates sharp route running, which helps him create separation from the defender. Image

As the ball arrives, he once again shows the ability to attack it and make the hands catch, because he’s able to make the reception in stride, he turns the catch into an easy touchdown.

Needs Improvement

While every single player in my Best of the Best series has traits to their game that in my opinion make them stand out, they all have things they need to improve too.  So let’s look at a couple of areas where I would like to see Lee improve in 2013.

Over Aggressive

  • I almost hate to knock Lee on this, because it’s part of what makes him so special.  However, sometimes the young receiver can become a little too aggressive resulting in plays for negative yardage, or turnovers. Image
  • On this play Lee is lined up in the backfield, and will take a pitch designed to go to the left. Image
  • Lee makes the first man miss, but is surrounded by Bruin defenders with nowhere to go.  This play looks to be a lost cause. Image
  • Despite defenders closing in rapidly, Lee still looks to cut back to the other side of the field, instead of heading North and South to pick up what little yards are there.                                                                                       Image
  • Finding no cutback lane available, Lee decides to finally try to get what yards he can on this busted play. Image
  • All this dancing around in the backfield has caused Lee to neglect protecting the football, and as he is tackled the ball will come out.  Instead of looking for an all or nothing play like he does almost every time he touches the ball, he could have just taken the yards available and lived to fight another day.

Inexperience

  • Lee is a raw athlete who has only been playing Wide Receiver since his Senior year of High School.  His inexperience at the position shows up in several areas of his game.  When route running he can take too many steps throughout his routes, reducing the amount of separation he can gain.  Also he has trouble beating pressing Corners off the line at times due to unrefined technique, and experience in those situations.  Finally while he flashes the ability to be a great hands catcher, route runner and very capable blocker, inexperience leads to lapses in his technique and production in these areas.  This isn’t really a concern however, because he has become better in all of these areas from the start of his Freshman year to the end of the 2012 season, and I would expect him to make the same strides this year.

Final Thoughts

Lee is an incredible athlete who happens to play the Wide Receiver position.  He shows great ability to track the football in the air, and flashes phenomenal ball skills to attack the football at its highest point and make the hands catch.  At times he’s a great route runner, making sharp cuts and utilizing the entire route tree throughout games.  While he doesn’t have as much top end speed as fellow Best of the Best member Sammy Watkins, he does show enough explosive ability after the catch to outrun chasing defenders in most situations.  He also has an incredible first step, exploding off the line.  He’s incredibly lethal once he secures the catch, showing great elusive ability, as well as the ability to run through tackles.  Furthermore, he uses his body well to shield the defender from the ball, and fights for the 50-50 ball better than any Wide Receiver in the nation.  He’s also a very willing and effective blocker, though his technique could use some refining.

His biggest flaw is probably his desire to turn every play into a touchdown.  This is evident from the very first time you watch Marqise Lee play, as he is always looking for the cutback lane that will provide the potential huge gain.  Part of this is why he is one of the Best of the Best, however he needs to be smarter in these situations.  He regularly goes backwards to get across field, at times doing this on conversion downs.  While it has been mostly successful for him in the college game, he can’t make a habit of this going forward to the NFL.  His other “flaw” if you will is his inexperience at the position.  Lee’s only been playing Wide Receiver for three years now, and while he shows the ability to be a complete player at the position, he has lapses in his game from time to time.  As I mentioned before I’m not overly concerned in this as he’s already made great strides in this area.  However I would like to see him get better at fighting through more physical Corners, as well as refining his route running to create max separation.

Thank you for reading, and be sure to check back tomorrow for the next player in my Best of the Best series.  Also, please feel free to send me any comments/critique to danguy013@gmail.com or feel free to comment/follow me on twitter @danny_g13

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