Feb 23, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Marqise Lee participates in a pass catching drill during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Marqise Lee and Blake Bortles: Players the Jets Should Not Draft

Every year, I feel like there are names that the Jets get associated with, because of a need.  This year the consensus is Eric Ebron, which I’m ok with.  There are, however, several players that are always touted as that can’t miss prospect or someone that is a definite first rounder and I can’t figure out why.  Two years ago when the Jets needed an outside linebacker, the hot name associated was Melvin Ingram of South Carolina.  He had a first round grade from all the scouts, and plenty production in sacks and tackles for loss. When you looked at his size at 6’2″ or so and 260 pounds, people started penciling him in as an outside linebacker.  When I looked him up however, he was older than everyone else, and he got most of his sacks from the defensive tackle position, not as an edge rusher.  He also got 80 % of his positive stats in bunches against teams that stunk.  This year is no different, as several teams have need positions, and names are thrown out that are just not as great as people make them seem.  Here’s a few with elevated stock.

Marquise Lee WR USC,  a name often associated with the New York Jets for the 18th pick.  Lee is a fine player, but I fail to see why he is graded as a first round pick or the 3rd or 4th wide receiver taken.  Realistically he was a second option for two of the three years he played for USC.  His yards per catch declined from 15, to 14, to 13 every year he played despite Robert Woods being the main guy in 2011, and Nelson Agholor being the main guy in 2013.  When I look at Marquise I see a thin guy that probably can’t beat press coverage, or outrun corners on the pro level consistently, and has reached his ceiling as far as potential.  That’s probably why the junior declared for the draft this year, as next season it may have been more pronounced as he became a second or third passing option for USC.  He’s still a good player, but to me he’s about the 10th best receiver, and if you want a skilled route runner you can draft a player like Jordan Matthews or Jared Abbrederis, and they will be just as productive, if not more so than Lee around round 3. Those players bring the same tools to the position as Lee does in my opinion, in some cases they are better at it.

The other player I can’t seem to get my head around is Blake Bortles. Whenever I disagree with scouts, especially on a #1 pick, it makes me wonder if I’m the one who’s crazy.  Here’s the thing. Blake Bortles reminds me of two other quarterbacks that picked up a lot of steam going towards the draft.  One was Blaine Gabbert, and the other was Kyle Boller.  I know the positives, the guy is 6’5″, he’s played in a pro-style offense, he can see the pocket and extend the play, he’s got a good arm, etc.  I get the arm strength, and physical tools, but I can’t shake the feeling I’m looking at the next top 10 college quarterback that can’t put it together in the NFL.  He’s got two solid years of starting experience, completed over 65% of his passes which are good. He’s also only played against top 25 teams four times in the last 2 years, and gone 2-2.  In the NFL every team is a top 25 team, and his record from a distance seems like he’s been mopping up bad teams, and playing pretty average against good teams.  I am not saying that Blake Bortles is a bad player, but I am saying I would feel more comfortable drafting Johnny Manziel than Bortles. Football is about getting your job done, and producing wins.  I think Manziel, Bridgewater, and even Carr might produce more wins than Blake Bortles when all is said and done.  The 1st pick in the draft needs to be the safest pick, the highest floor and ceiling if possible. Bortles has neither the highest floor, or the highest ceiling at his position.

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Tags: 2014 Nfl Draft New York Jets

  • Van Hazard

    Glad to see I’m not alone in being totally unimpressed by Lee. Don’t understand why so many people are so high on this guy, for many of the reasons you’ve stated. Jets would be much better served looking elsewhere for their top receiver.

  • Paul Newbold

    Great article, I couldn’t agree more! The Jets have no need for Bortles #1. With Vick, Smith and Simms already on board, nothing is gained by adding another project. On top of the reasons you listed for not signing Lee, I’d add the nagging leg issues that caused a huge drop off in production last season. I’m not sure if you can gamble on a WR in the first if there are injury concerns. The Jets ignored them when they took Hill in the second round, note the result. I’ve come to believe the Jets will likely go defense in the first to fill the corner vacancy. As unpopular as it is I think they will go defense in the first two rounds, picking up their future OLB in the second and completing the defensive rebuild. They can afford to wait to the mid rounds for a receiver in a very deep draft, no matter who they pick, it would be an upgrade over last year’s group. Then if they still need a #1 after the season they could pick him up via Free Agency or the 2015 draft. The Jets are still rebuilding, they would be competitive this year and likely would be division contenders the following season. It’s just my best guess at the Idzik plan. Complete the defensive rebuild this year, add offensive weapons along the way and then complete the offensive rebuild the following year. The Super Bowl Run we all yearn for might still be a couple of years down the road.

    • AC

      Yes, the Super Bowl run won’t be this year, thats for sure. I think Paul may be right. They get the secondary to the level or close to the level of the D-line, and fill in the offensive players as they go. As nice as it is for fans to see bombs thrown and highlight reel catches on offense, this team remains a defense first, ground and pound squad until they can find that player that gives them the “it” factor. Whether at QB or WR. Idzik is playing the long game, I would just hate to see Rex go because of it. I still think he is a quality coach for the most part, and definitely our best option right now.

      • Paul Newbold

        I’m not a Rex Ryan fan as many here know. I don’t believe his job is in any danger however. Woody loves the guy and by all reports Idzik has developed a working relationship with him. With the contract extension, he’s employed through 2015. That gives Idzik and Company two years to build a contender. Assuming they complete the defensive rebuild this season while adding some offensive talent, they would have another Free Agency period as well as another draft to become contenders. After 2015, the verdict will be in on how successful both Rex and Idzik have been through the rebuild.

  • Marvin Lawrence

    Blake Bortles did not play in a pro style offense….he played in a read option/screen offense….similar to what you see high schools run. He is way behind the curve and will need a lot of season. These scouts always fall the tangibles like size, weight and arm strength (his is average for his size)…..He is a reach in the first round.

  • http://batman.com Floyd Toucanet

    Stating that Lee was the second option in the passing game at USC is nonsense. In 2011 his first year as a starter Robert Woods was already established. In 2012 Lee was the #1 target and the offensive game plan was centered around him. In 2013 he was not the #1 target when he was injured.