The New York Jets drafted Darron Lee with the 20th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Could he be Rob Gronkowski’s kryptonite?
The New York Jets ranked in the top five in defense last season, but stuck with their new patented draft strategy this offseason. Second-year general manager Mike Maccagnan in consecutive drafts cashed his first round pick on the defensive side of the football.
This time around he selected a very interesting prospect in Darron Lee out of Ohio State. Lee played in a variety of positions in college from inside to outside linebacker. The possibilities are endless for Lee’s role in the Jets defense for the 2016 season. Head coach Todd Bowles said that Lee will sit behind veteran linebacker Erin Henderson, until he’s ready for starting action.
But don’t think because he’s currently a backup that he won’t be getting any playing time this fall. Quite the opposite as a matter of fact, Lee will be playing a vital role in sub-packages.
There’s a lot of hype going on with the Jets right now: Muhammad Wilkerson finally re-signed long term, the Jets got their guy back in Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Lee finally signed his rookie contract. The big question is how they’ll use Lee on defense this year.
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It’s exciting because everyone knows he’s fast, but when he finally understands the mental aspect, he’s going to wreak havoc.
Lee can be used as a free blitzer and he can also cover running backs and tight ends in one-on-one coverage.
That last sentiment piqued the curiosity of many when Lee was drafted and raised the question, could Lee become Rob Gronkowski‘s kryptonite?
During Bowles’ most recent press conference, he was asked about Lee potentially covering Gronkowski, courtesy of the Media Relations Department of the Jets:
On potentially using Darron Lee to cover Rob Gronkowski because of his speed…
It’s a whole game plan. We don’t specify anyone for anybody, especially right now. He can do a lot of things, so, depending on who we have on the field. I haven’t seen anybody cover Gronkowski yet no matter who it is and that’s not really our concern. We drafted him so he can play football.
Last season, the Jets tried a lot of different techniques in covering Gronkowski and the most effective one was using safety Calvin Pryor in man-to-man coverage. The Jets’ biggest struggles against Gronkowski last season came after Pryor was injured early in the second half of the teams’ first meeting.
So the argument that Lee is to small to compete with Gronkowski is riddled nill. Pryor after all, is just 5-11 and weighs 207 pounds while Lee measured in at six feet and weighed in at 230 pounds at the 2016 NFL Combine.
Lee may not be ready for Gronkowski in his rookie season, heck the rest of the NFL hasn’t figured out an effective way to contain Gronk. But Lee is certainly an interesting cog in the Jets’ defense and we’ll see if he gets his chance at going one-on-one with the beast incarnate.