Darron Lee had a good start to this NFL career and big things could be on the horizon. Legendary NFL personnel man Gil Brandt named Lee to his All-Rookie Team, stating that the 22-year-old ILB has what it takes to become one of the league's elite players.
"Lee is a linebacker who thrives in a game built on speed. He has a chance to be a future star," Brandt said. "He finished with 73 tackles — that's a lot of tackles for someone who started just nine times (out of 13 games)."
Lee, selected No. 20 overall out of Ohio State last April, had modest expectations when starting his NFL trek.
"I definitely wanted to ease into a starting role. That was my goal, to be able to start at some point in the season, whether it be early or later on," he said at the end of his first campaign. "I just wanted to get to that starting role and at that point contribute, make some tackles and have an impact to help the team. I was starting to get to that and then the Arizona game and it was a roadblock."
An ankle injury suffered against the Cardinals in Week 6 forced Lee to miss three games. The 6'1", 232-pounder, who was leading the club in tackles at the time of his sprain, returned to action against the Rams in Week 10 and then started the team's final six games.
"At least I know I can belong and I can play," said Lee, who finished with a sack along with three passes defended. "Now it's about closing that gap from being so close to making that big play to making that big play."
Following Todd Bowles' initial plan, Lee came in an as the nickel 'backer and became a three-down player. He gave the Jets an infusion of speed and pursued well while showing progress in coverage. Lee says he can get better at everything and he's anxious to become the game-changer he was with the Buckeyes.
"Taking the whole film to another level and taking cues to another level, so I put myself in a better position to make that big play," he said. "And I'd say that's the next big part is making that big play."
In 2014-15, Lee combined for 27.5 tackles for loss and 12.0 sacks at Ohio State. He has high expectations for himself and doesn't plan on slowing down.
"I haven't arrived in any shape or form."
Top Photos of the Rookie LB During the 2016 Season