Heading into the NFL Draft, many draft analysts projected Darron Lee to be the pick for the Atlanta Falcons, however they decided to draft Keanu Neal a safety from Florida to help improve their secondary. One draft pick that was most common on mock drafts was quarterback Paxton Lynch out of Memphis University.
When the New York Jets were on the clock some possibilities include quarterback Paxton Lynch, a top wide receiver in Laquon Treadwell and Josh Doctson, and their choice of A’Shawn Robinson or Jarran Reed at defensive line. One pick that stood out to Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan was the speedy athletic linebacker out of Ohio State Darron Lee.
Lee helps add more speed and youth at the linebacker position. Although, he will not start Bowles plans to move him around similar to how Urban Meyer used him at Ohio State. Currently, the Jets two starting inside linebacker are David Harris and Erin Henderson. The Jets lost Demario Davis to the Cleveland Browns during free agency. Henderson and Lee will fill in the void for the loss of Davis.
One of the biggest concerns and questions he had from scouts and draft analysts heading into the draft was his size and how his best fit would be a team that plays a 4-3 type defense as opposed to a team that runs a 3-4 defense. One thing aspect of his game that Lee may need to work on is his technique in coverage.
Bowles has made it known that he plans use Darron Lee at inside linebacker. He is a physical linebacker who is a good athlete who can be used multiple ways on the Jets defense. Todd Bowles even debunked the theory of his size and how he felt that Lee’s talent and size can make him a contributor on their defense.
During his most recent question and answer session. I recently asked Jets Senior Reporter Eric Allen if he envisioned Todd Bowles using Darron Lee similar to how the Arizona Cardinals use Deone Bucannon. He shared with me how he asked coach Todd Bowles about the Lee and Bucannon comparison during the draft weekend and how he saw the similarities between the two. He also mentioned how Bowles plans to use him at the Mo backer position and how the Jets will use him in sub packages before he becomes a three-down linebacker. He will serve as a backup to Henderson, however expect him to be used as a hybrid player on defense who Bowles will use in many ways.
During the offseason, one of Todd Bowles main goal was to get faster. During the combine, he ran the 40 in 4.47 seconds. He tested as the fastest linebacker in the combine with a time that even beat most of the wide receivers who were invited in the combine. Lee offers versatility and speed at the position. He as the ability to cover and blitz and one of the biggest competitions he may face this year is going up against the bigger tight ends such as Rob Gronkowski from the Patriots. He can be moved like a chess piece on the Jets defense who can help provide more speed on their defense.