Many Bengals fans love Ohio State players, so it's no surprise that Darron Lee is near the top of almost every Bengals fan's draft board. The Ravens and Steelers found their inside linebackers of the future in the 2014 NFL Draft, and though the Bengals selected P.J. Dawson in 2015, Lee could join Dawson and Vontaze Burfict as the third member of what could be an exciting future linebacking core in Cincinnati.
Weight: 232 lbs
Arm length: 33 1/4
Hands: 9 3/4
College: Ohio State University
Class: Redshirt sophomore
40 dash: 4.47
Bench press: 17 reps
Vert jump: 35.5"
Broad jump: 133.0"
3 cone: 7.12
20 yard shuttle: 4.20
Lee compared to other linebackers, per Mock Draftable
Lee has played quarterback, running back and safety in the past. His 40 time was the fastest by any linebacker in the combine in nearly a decade, and only seven wide receivers in this year's draft class ran a 40 as fast or faster than Lee's.
Scouting Report Consensus - What to like
- Quick-minded, diagnoses plays well
- Freakishly athletic
- Loose hips, good in pass coverage
- Great acceleration, shoots through gaps well
- Will contribute on special teams immediately
- Too small for the position, needs to gain more weight
- Needs to improve when taking on offensive linemen
- 21 missed tackles, 5 broken tackles in two seasons
- Raw, still needs to learn nuances of the position
- Needs to develop his functional strength
Scouting Report Consensus - What not to like
Lee has the physical attributes to become a Ryan Shazier-type linebacker or potentially make the switch to safety, but he still needs to bulk up and learn the nuances of the linebacker position. Lee's excellent speed will boost his draft stock, perhaps too high, but it gives him a high ceiling regardless of where he's taken.
Lee can immediately be a difference-maker on special teams, but there will be questions of whether he's capable of coming in and immediately starting on a defense. Lee would be best suited on a team that has the depth to let him wait for a year until playing a serious role, and the Bengals should love to be that team. However, with Lee's physical upside, it's hard to envision him falling to Cincinnati.
If Lee were to fall to the Bengals with the 24th pick, I'd take him. Only a significant fall by another top 15 prospect would make me reconsider taking Lee, even if every wide receiver was still on the board.