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Prospect Profiles: ILB Sean Lee (Penn State)


Sean Lee

Measurables (Combine Numbers When Available)

Born July 22nd, 1986 (Older prospect). Senior. 6’2 236 pounds.


Career: 324 tackles, 3 FF, 3 INT

2009: 86 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT (10 games with stats).

Big Games: 13 tackles (6 solo) vs Syracuse and a sack, 12 tackles (3 solo) and a sack vs Temple, 12 tackles @ northwestern (10 solo) pass defensed, 14 tackles (6 solo) Ohio State, 10 tackles (7 solo) 4 passes defensed vs Indiana, 7 tackles (4 solo) and 1 INT at Michigan State, 6 tackles vs LSU in Bowl Game.

Missed all of 2008 with injury.

2007 stats, 138 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 Forced Fumbles, 1 INT.

Sean Lee makes his presence felt in a game. He is a stat monster, and puts up numbers in pretty much every game he plays. However, he is also very injury prone after missing all of 2008 with an injury he also had three consecutive games this season (and then two down games after that where he totaled 5 tackles) during the 2009 season, which I believe was due to injury.

Scouting Reports

CBS Draft Scout

Lee was expected to be a top prospect in 2008 after an outstanding junior season after which he was named second-team All-Big Ten with 138 tackles — second in the conference to only teammate Dan Connor. Lee already had made notable contributions as a freshman and delivered a strong sophomore season as a starter (90 tackles, eight for loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles, 1 interception). He appeared on the fast track to immortality at Linebacker U.But Lee tore the ACL in his right knee in spring 2008, forcing him to redshirt his fourth season in Happy Valley instead of taking over the middle linebacker spot previously occupied by Connor. He stayed with the program, acting as a coach from the sideline and in practice. He will continue in a leadership role in 2009 as a co-captain along with QB Daryll Clark.Lee’s expected to be playing full throttle as he always does in ’09. Scouts do have some concerns with his pure speed and strength, as they did Nittany Lion star linebackers Dan Connor (third-round pick) and Paul Posluszny (second round). But his intelligence and toughness are virtually unquestioned. If he has a strong senior season and proves his health, he’s likely to be considered in the top 50 of the 2010 draft.
Read & React: Reads his keys almost instantly and runs to the ball with no wasted motion. Shows controlled aggression against play-action. Will line up in the middle in 2009 after spending his first two seasons as a fulltime starter on the outside.Run defense: Needs to add strength in his upper body. Relies on quick hands and feet to disengage from blocks, but can struggle to release when effectively tied up. Flows through the traffic efficiently. Good lateral agility and balance to protect his legs. Good straight-line speed in pursuit, especially for the inside linebacker position. Appears to have the speed to meet the back at the edge. High effort and good angles in pursuit laterally and downfield.Pass defense: One of Lee’s pronounced weaknesses, he has a high back-pedal and only marginal depth in his pass drops due to questionable deep speed. Can change direction when running downhill smoothly, but struggles to flip his hips quickly. Very good key-and-diagnose skills and a good burst to close, but is clearly more comfortable moving forward to the line of scrimmage than in reverse.Tackling: This area is one of Lee’s greatest assets. Fundamentally sound wrap-up tackler who could provide the animated examples for hit-lift-drive. Plays on the balls of his feet and has the body control to break down in space and tackle smaller, shiftier ballcarriers. Long arms and accurate hands to trip up the ballcarrier when he dives. Could develop more explosiveness as a hitter. Reliable open-field tackler, but not an intimidator.Pass Rush/Blitz: Often asked to blitz in this scheme as a stand-up rusher. Good initial burst from the outside to get past the tackle. Needs to improve his explosiveness to quickly disengage from blockers, as he can get tied up in this area. Shows some lower-body strength and use of leverage for the bull rush, but could improve in this area. Only marginal use of pass-rush technique — relies on his good lateral agility and straight-line speed to elude. Good closing speed on the quarterback and has the body control to re-direct. Times his blitzes effectively with the snap count.Intangibles: Unquestioned leader of the defense despite missing the 2008 season with a torn ACL in his right knee. Traveled with the team as a coach on the sidelines and during practice. Held out of spring practices and returned this fall after nearly 15 months away from football. Blue-collar work ethic. Highly competitive. Brother was a placekicker for the University of Pittsburgh.

NFL Comparison: Dan Connor

ESPN Scouts INC. (1 Exceptional, 3 average, 5 marginal)

Production 2 2005: (8/0), 11 tackles 2006: (13/13) 90 tackles, 8 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 1 INT, 2 PBU, 2 FR, 2 FF 2007: (13/12) 138 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 INT, 8 PBU, 3 FR, 3 FF; Second-team All-Big Ten
Height-Weight-Speed 2 Thick build, good frame and above-average top-end speed.
Durability 4 Tore ACL in his right knee during a non-contact drill in April of 2008 and underwent surgery later that month. Missed the 2008 season as a result.
Intangibles 1 Coaches rave about his hard work off the field and leadership skills. 2006: Academic All-Big Ten. 2005: Earned Dean’s List recognition during the fall semester.
Inside Linebacker specific Traits
Instincts/Recognition 1 Excellent football intelligence. Quickly diagnoses plays and gets into position. Disciplined and can be counted on to carry out assignment. Sniffs out screens and draws.
Strength/Toughness 2 Good upper and lower body strength. Generally stays balanced and under control. Uses hands to control and shed blockers in phone booth situations. Applied this concept in a battle against Michigan OLT Jake Long (# 1 overall pick in 2008) in 2007. Doesn’t explode into blockers or jar them with a violent initial punch.
Range vs. Run 3 Instincts allow him a quick jump on the ball. Takes precise angles to the point. However, shows some tightness in hips and struggles with any sudden change of direction. Closing burst is adequate at best and doesn’t have sideline-to-sideline range.
Tackling 2 A strong and consistent wrap up tackler. Displays excellent technique and breaks down in the open field. However, lacks the power of strikers like Ray Lewis, Patrick Willis, and Rey Maualuga.
3rd Down Capabilites 3 Shows good awareness and senses receivers crossing behind him when roaming underneath in zone coverage. However lack of fluidity and burst make him a liability in man coverage. Times blitzes well but lacks the closing speed to consistently get to the quarterback.

Fantasy Football Toolbox Scouting Report

Sean Lee is one the most talented linebackers in the country. The only downside is Lee’s inability to stay healthy the past few seasons. Lee was a huge surprise for the Nittany Lions as a sophomore when he earned a starting job at outside linebacker. He finished that season with 89 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and an interception. He improved upon those numbers as a junior, when he recorded 138 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, broke up 9 passes, and forced 3 fumbles. Unfortunately, he missed all of last season with an ACL tear that kept him out until spring practice. Lee moved to inside linebacker for his senior year, and has played very well when he’s been on the field. He finished the season with 86 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks, in just 10 games. Despite all his talents, teams will be scared by the fact that he missed three games this season with a sprained knee. Lee can play all three linebacker positions in the 4-3 defense, and still has the speed to cover sideline to sideline despite those injuries. Sean Lee’s draft status will depend heavily on what combine doctors have to say about his injuries. Depending on his post season performance, Lee could sneak into the bottom of round two, but is most likely a third round pick.

Big Board Rankings: (1/29)

CBS Draft Scout (90)

ESPN Scouts Inc 58

Draft Board Insider 61

Where the Mocks have him falling (as we get closer to the draft)

Bartolis Summary and Final Verdict

Sean Lee, to me, is not an intriguing prospect. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Intriguing to me is a player that has a lot of mystery about him. Sean Lee is not a mysterious prospect. He is what he is.

Sean Lee is a very intelligent, very productive, very mature draft prospect who has above average athletic ability, and exceptional Football accumen.

When I think of Sean Lee, I think of a more athletic Antonio Pierce. Good leader, sound player, (Pierce) at one time was a pretty good (not exceptional athlete).

Sean Lee won’t make any mistakes that will kill you and he’ll always be where he is suppose to be, like Antonio Pierce, but Sean Lee also will not be a dynamic linebacker like Patrick Willis, or Jon Beason (A linebacker I really like).

I think Sean Lee has limited upside, but little bust potential. The only reason Sean Lee would bust is because he’s injured.

Sean Lee, for a linebacker, has  average Ball skills vs the pass, and great diagnoses skills, but he is not an elite athlete.

It is a little troubling that a lot less than half of his tackles were solo tackles.

MAYBE that is because Penn State has had some pretty good linebackers on their team since 2007.

If you draft Sean Lee…you hope hs is Paul Posluszny who had 110 tackles in 12 games for the Bills this season (147 if he played a full 16 game schedule), with a sack, 3 FF, 3 INT and 4 passes defensed. But since 2007 when the Bills drafted him Paul Posluszny has missed 17 of 48 possible games.

If you get Posluszny production out of your middle linebacker that’s not a bad thing at all, but I don’t think he’s quite as good as Poszluszy or even James Laurinatis (120 tackles this year, 107 of which were solo, 1 FF, 2 INT, 2 sacks), but he’s a Tom Couhglin type player.

Smart, good leader, won’t make mistakes. Dependable, Blue-Collar, but not flashy.

Bartolis Final Verdict

I think this is a player that the Giants could be very interested in this upcoming draft.

He is a very smart, productive, good football player. Sean Lee comes from a big time program with a high pedigree.

He also plays a position that the Giants need and could (eventually) be the kind of player who is a coach on the field and provides leadership for a defense.

I fully expect Sean Lee to be a productive N.F.L. player, but I do not think he has as much upside as ILB Micah Johnson, ILB Daryl Washington, Brandon Spikes, or Rolando McClain.

If the Giants draft him in round two, I will be a little disappointed because as solid  as Lee is who knows if he’ll be healthy most of the time. But if he stays healthy it could be good value.  The age, he’ll be 24 before the season starts also bothers me a little bit.

If the Giants get him in round three that’s an extremely wise investment.

If the Giants can get him in round four or later Jerry Reese might be facing some jail time becuase he just commited robbery.

Previous Profiles

S Eric Berry

OT Bruce Campbell

ILB Daryl Washington

DT/NT Dan Williams (Updated with K.C. Joyner’s Draft Lab 2/7)

CB Kyle Wilson

DT Jared Odrick

DE Carlos Dunlap

ILB Micah Johnson

DT Arthur Jones

OT Bryan Baluga

OT Anthony Davis (UPDATED 2/5/10)

DT Brian Price

ILB Brandon Spikes

S Earl Thomas

ILB Rolando McClain

RB C.J. Spiller

S Taylor Mays

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5 Responses to “Prospect Profiles: ILB Sean Lee (Penn State)”

  1. Michael S says:

    If we want a MLB in the draft and were not trading up for mcclain, I would go with Brandon spikes. He’s smart, aggresive, and a great leader. Just because he’s not blazing in the 40, doesn’t mean he isn’t good. He has game speed and that’s what counts. James laurianitis and Rey maualuga slipped out of the first round because of there 40 speed but performed very well in there rookie years.

    Let’s not make the same mistake….

  2. Steve B says:

    If the Giants dont get a MLB in free agency/trade, they will most definitly be looking for the best LB in the draft. I like Sean lee, but to wait till the 3rd round for someone who is injury prone, and you almost expect that MLB to start for you, is crazy.

    If no Free agent MLB, then it will be the draft, and will either be:

    Rolando McClain (they might view him as 4-3 MLB, but questionable – clearly best LB in draft)

    Brandon Spikes (leader, but speed is questionable, plus eye gouging, might be put off, who knows?)

    Daryl Washington (has great speed, and coverage, most likely 2nd round pick, but is a bit undersized, would be ideal for Tampa 2)

    And my wildcard….

    Sean Weatherspoon (late 1st round, but where do the Giants see him playing? MLB? IDK)

  3. Jeremy says:

    As long as he’s more athletic then Blackburn, but I don’t believe he’ll be the best available at 47. He might be a reach. we have so many linebackers on the team already to reach in the second even if none of them are lights out players. Third round I have no qualms about drafting him. It isn’t like any of our rookies will start anyway.

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