Penn State's Sean Lee could be draft sleeper
Never mind that Penn State's Sean Lee has a history of knee injuries. Disregard the fact that he's not as stout as some other linebacker prospects in this week's NFL draft.
Never mind that Penn State's Sean Lee has a history of knee injuries.
Disregard the fact that he's not as stout as some other linebacker prospects in this week's NFL draft.
Some believe the 6-foot-2 236-pounder still has a bright NFL future.
"Sean Lee, a little bit, reminds me of myself," former New England Patriots Pro Bowl linebacker Tedy Bruschi said on ESPN's NFL Live. "Not the biggest, strongest or fastest . . . but he's got the instincts. He finds the ball. And he knows how to play football. I like that kid."
So does NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock.
Mayock ranks Lee as the second-best inside linebacker prospect in the draft behind Alabama's Rolando McClain.
"It wouldn't surprise me if one of those really good teams that made it to the playoffs last year, between 25 and 32, that don't have a lot of needs but they just want a good, solid football player, I wouldn't be surprised if he snuck in late in the first round," Mayock said during a conference call in February.
If Lee doesn't go in the first round, Mayock thought he could go in the first half of the second round.
"If his knees check out, he's too good a player to last much beyond No. 40 in the draft," Mayock said.
That's because when he's healthy and on the field, no one can question his abilities. Lee almost always finds a way to be near the play and bring down a ballcarrier.
"I think my knees are fine," Lee recently told the Harrisburg Patriot-News. "I feel great. My weight is good, and I think I'm stronger and faster since I left Penn State."
But injuries prevented him from playing to his potential in State College.
In 2007, Lee recorded 138 tackles en route to earning all-Big Ten honors. He was also named the 2007 Alamo Bowl defensive MVP.
Lee, however, missed the following campaign after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the spring of 2008.
As a fifth-year senior in the 2009 season, Lee missed three games with a sprained left knee. He ended up with 86 tackles, 47 of which were solo stops.
NFL teams appear to be impressed with his attitude, character, and ability. At the very least, they've shown an interest in him.
He reportedly had meetings and/or workouts with the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Atlanta Falcons, and Indianapolis Colts.
The 2010 SB Nation NFL Mock Draft has the Cardinals selecting him in the second round with the 58th overall pick.
ESPN football analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has the Rams drafting Lee in the third round with the 65th pick.
But with concerns about his durability, some mock drafts have him slipping to later rounds. The SportsAgentBlog.com, for instance, has the Eagles selecting Lee with the 105th pick in the fourth round.
Michael Lombardi, a frequent contributor to the NFL Network, isn't concerned about Lee's injuries.
A respected NFL mind, Lombardi headed the personnel departments of the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders. He also worked with the Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, and Denver Broncos.
"I really believe his best football is going to be ahead of him . . .," Lombardi said of Lee on Path to the Draft. "He's a very instinctive linebacker. He can play outside or inside. He's playing inside right now.
"But I also think he's got a unique ability to make plays."