As we continue our Daily NFL Draft Prospect Profile series, let's return to Penn State -- Linebacker U -- to look at another player.
We looked at Nittany Lion outside linebacker Navarro Bowman a couple of weeks back. Today, let's look at the player who manned the middle for Joe Paterno's defense -- Sean Lee.
Talent-wise, Lee is considered one of the best middle linebackers in the draft. A history of knee injuries, though, might push him down into the middle rounds.
NFL.com's Mike Mayock was asked about Lee during a conference call this week. He thinks Lee will be off the board earlier than most mock drafts currently have him being selected right now.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he runs well and works out well this week. And, medically, of course, he's going to get a very thorough evaluation.
But 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.
If he doesn't, then I think he's going to go on the front end, front half of the second round. He's too good a football player. He's smart. He's instinctive. He comes downhill. He makes plays. If his knees check out, he's too good a player to last much beyond No. 40 in the draft."
Let's take a closer look.
Sean Lee Scouting Reports
From the National Football Post.
A tough, instinctive linebacker ... He's a better athlete than given credit for and does a nice job getting a deep drop in Cover 2 looks.
Lee possesses good ball skills when asked to make a play on the throw and displays that sixth sense in his game. He takes good angles in pursuit and knows how to break down and wrap up in space. He's coming off a knee injury that cost him the entire 2008 season, but he seems to have healed well and looks ready for the NFL. He has some versatility and can play both the inside and outside linebacker spots and should be able to carve out a niche as a starting linebacker at either position for an NFL team within his first couple of years in the league.
From Fantasy Football Toolbox.
Sean Lee is one the most talented linebackers in the country. The only downside is Lee's inability to stay healthy the past few seasons. ... Despite all his talents, teams will be scared by the fact that he missed three games this season with a sprained knee. Lee can play all three linebacker positions in the 4-3 defense, and still has the speed to cover sideline to sideline despite those injuries. Lee's draft status will depend heavily on what combine doctors have to say about his injuries.
From NFL Draft 101.
Leader on the field. Keeps everyone else around him lined up and in good position. ... Makes most of tackles up the middle. Looks the part of every great Penn St Middle Linebacker. ... Underrated pass coverage skills. ... A great football player but not necessarily a great athlete. ... Missed 2008 season with torn ACL and missed three games in 2009. ... Timed speed could be an issue with NFL Scouts.
Why Lee fits with the Giants
The Giants obviously need linebacker help, and you pretty much never go wrong with guys from Penn State. All reports indicate the guy can play, and if the Giants don't select a middle linebacker in the first couple of rounds he would be a nice mid-round option to compete with Jonathan Goff. He will probably fall into the middle rounds because of his injury history, but his talent says he should go higher than that. Could be a steal -- if he can stay on the field.
Why the Giants should pass
Gerris Wilkinson. After dealing with Wilkinson's injury issues the past few seasons, the Giants may not be willing to roll the dice with another player whose issue is not talent -- rather, it is the ability to stay on the field and display that talent.