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2016 NFL Draft: Is Darron Lee the New Age linebacker the Giants need?

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Could Darron Lee add some of the play-making ability the Giants' defense is sorely lacking?

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

College football has changed in the last few years. In no small part driven by the warp-speed offense popularized by Chip Kelly at Oregon, college teams are all adopting up-tempo, spread offenses. They have a number of advantages at that level; quick, simple reads help quarterbacks -- who don't necessarily have to be NFL-caliber passers or phenomenal athletes, the tempo wears out defenses, and the wide open nature spread defenses thin.

That change is trickling up to the NFL where teams are both constantly looking for any and every advantage to win a game, and looking to get more out of their draft picks sooner. That has pushed NFL defenses to adapt, getting smaller and faster. The New York Giants have needed to add athleticism to their defense to cope with evolving offenses.

Could Ohio State's Darron Lee be that athletic outside linebacker the Giants have lacked since cutting Michael Boley following the 2012 season?

Measurables

Pros

  • Very athletic. Smooth athlete in space with explosive closing speed.
  • Looks like he understands offensive concepts. Plays with a good football IQ, and doesn't move until he diagnoses the play
  • Plays well in space and is a dangerous blitzer.
  • Effective in coverage, often lining up in the slot.
  • Hard hitting tackler when he can square up on the ball carrier.

Cons

  • Frame is likely maxed out at 235 (formerly 195 pounds when he came to Ohio State).
  • Doesn't show the strength to reliably take on blockers.
  • Interesting blend of hesitation and aggression can sometimes take him out of position.

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Mocking The Draft - 15th overall

CBS - 18th overall

Draft Tek - 34th overall

Does He Fit with the Giants?

He is a linebacker who can blitz and cover effectively. Of course, he fits.

Lee is is the kind of player who is all over the field, using his impressive athleticism to make plays that other linebackers just couldn't. However, he is also definitely a "run and chase" 'backer who needs a defensive line to keep him clean. He also has the reputation of a confident, high character, and high IQ leader, all traits that would fit in well in the Giants' locker room and Spags' defense.

Final Thoughts

Darron Lee is a similar prospect to Myles Jack (and a number of other highly athletic weakside linebackers in this draft). He can cover, blitz, run, and hit ... Basically, all things the Giants desperately need from their linebackers. He is also a player who is going to need a stout defensive line in front of him, thanks to his limited strength at the point of attack.

If the Giants don't get Myles Jack at 10th overall, Lee would be a great consolation prize. The problem is whether or not he would fall to 40th overall. He could go in roughly the same range as former Buckeye Ryan Shazier -- mid-lower first round --, but he could also slip if he measures at less than listed height or weight, or doesn't test as well as expected at the Combine.

Finally, one bit o' snark: In his scouting report Dane Brugler of CBSsports wrote "Doesn't have an indestructible body type" as a weakness of Lee's. Couldn't he just have written "Is not Eli Manning/Kryptonian"?