The Buffalo Bills added another linebacker for depth in former Raiders player Marquel Lee. I don’t usually start these with disclaimers but in Lee’s case it’s necessary. I’m a big fan of “what have you done lately” for analysis as injuries/time can catch up with players fast. Marquel Lee has a long history of injuries that robbed him of the 2020 season and most of 2019.
I went as far back as 2018 to ensure I had what should be a healthy game for Lee. With the frequency and severity of injuries for Lee there’s little confidence we’ve seen his best work.
One positive that can show up even with an injury is play recognition. Overall, Marquel Lee seemed to do this well with this play definitely showing off a solid read-and-react. Lee sees the lane coming open and hits the brakes to occupy it.
This is the film from 2018 when Lee should have been as healthy as he’s been in the NFL. Lee didn’t come across as a powerhouse, being washed out of plays when brute strength was the determining factor.
Marquel Lee seemed to have had a better time with side-to-side speed and was often trusted to peek into the backfield like we see here. Respectable sideline speed and recognition skills made this a decent fit.
Lee cuts back early, which could have been problematic if he over-committed. He recognizes that right away and gets right back into the play. The big takeaway here—and as seen elsewhere—is the hustle to the play combined with continuous evaluation of what he’s seeing.
That’s not to say that Lee always gets it right or corrects things in time. He’s a little behind on this play and doesn’t have the speed to make up for it. Lee makes the tackle but only after a gain of ten.
This play combines elements from a lot of what we see above. Lee reads the play well, but isn’t physical enough to be as disruptive as you’d like. He adjusts well on the fly and does his best to get back into things.
As usual, we end on a high note. Lee sees the play develop quickly enough where he’s able to shed the block early and get in for the tackle.
No one should be under the illusion that Marquel Lee is in Buffalo to usurp either Matt Milano or Tremaine Edmunds. Lee is a depth linebacker signing who also has a lot of time on special teams. Athletically, I came away thinking Lee grades as an “incomplete.” Despite being able to find some film where he’s hypothetically at his peak physically it was hard to tell the difference from games where injuries had to be lingering.
Is he able to play through the pain and that’s his real apogee? Or has he been pretty much perma-injured? Head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier are about to find out and, with any luck, so will we. Lee seems like a solid player from the mental and processing side of the game and Bills fans should root for him to elevate his physical presence.