Breaking news: Raiders get their linebacker
Waiting it out until the fifth round — general manager Reggie McKenzie’s go-to spot for the position — the Raiders took Wake Forest’s Marquel Lee with the 168th overall pick.
Lee, who is 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, was a team captain who had 105 tackles and 7.5 sacks last season and fills a major need as a guy who can multiple linebacker spots. He comes in well aware the linebacker spot is wide open on this team.
“The general manager explained that to me and everything, and said he wanted me to come in and compete at that spot,” Lee said on a media teleconference. “That’s what I plan to do.”
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., on a pre-draft media teleconference, identified Lee as a possible Day 3 target who could step in a potential starting inside linebacker.
“You look at the Florida State game, he struggled a little bit, missed some tackles in that game,” Kiper said. “You look at some other games and he was a guy who was solid from start to finish. If you look at the right game, Lee from Wake Forest could end up being a guy who can help you down the road as an inside linebacker.”
Lee attended the combine, but didn’t run there after injuring his foot in January. He later ran around a 4.7 time in the 40-yard dash. Scouting reports indicate his play speed is below average and he appears to be better at defending the run and making plays behind the line of scrimmage than defending the pass.
“I’m a physical player at the line of scrimmage,” Lee said. “I shed blocks really well, so I feel like I can go sideline to sideline as well. Just being a motor type guy. My motor, I don’t see it ever stopping in games. Just being put where I’m best seen fit. Anything I’m asked, I’ll do to help contribute to the team. That’s the type of person I am. You can ask anybody that’s been around me for my whole life. I’m just trying to learn.”
Lee also thinks he is a capable pass defender.
“I felt like I was pretty good in coverage over my years,” Lee said. “Just polishing up my attack on the ball and going after the ball, I think that’s where I need to improve myself. In coverage, I mean zone dropping, I have good hips, I’ve shown that I can cover at the combine. I mean, I do any of the drills and stuff at the combine that translate to the field. I feel like I can cover anybody.”
Lee said he played the Mike, or middle linebacker, spot his entire college career and that’s where he’s most comfortable. He’ll likely come to Alameda with a chance to earn that starting job on a roster that has just 2015 fifth-round pick Ben Heeney and 2016 sixth-rounder Cory James and players with experience in that role.