A highly productive two-year player for Ohio State, linebacker Darron Lee believes he's got the speed, strength and smarts to match against an NFL offensive style.
Darron Lee believes he is emblematic of what a linebacker is in today's NFL.
The Ohio State product isn't very big – he checked in at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds at the NFL Combine – but he has the versatility that can take on powerful running attacks and quick-strike passing games.
"I feel linebackers are changing in the league, to be honest – a lot smaller," Lee said. "There aren't really too many bigger guys. The game is getting faster and you need guys to cover. You're starting to see that change a lot this year in the league."
Lee left the Buckeyes' program after two successful seasons being a key contributor on their defensive unit.
As a freshman in 2014, Lee started all 15 games, totaling 81 tackles (16.5 for loss) along with 7.5 sacks, two interceptions and two fumbles recovered.
He was not only named to various freshman All-American first teams, but he also earned Sugar Bowl Defensive MVP honors against Ohio State when he recorded seven tackles and two sacks.
Against Oregon in the National Championship Game, Lee was once again a disruptive force, totaling eight tackles.
During the 2015 season, he was named an Associated Press second-team All-American after tallying 66 tackles with 4.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
"It was a mixture," Lee said of his responsibilities within the defense during that stretch. "It was a mix of everything, zone coverage and man coverage. It really depended on who we were playing that week and what coaches wanted to do. So it really depended on game plan."
Check out images of linebacker Darron Lee during his collegiate career at Ohio State.
While he's projected as an outside linebacker at the professional level, Lee wasn't shy in pronouncing his abilities to play other positions.
"Absolutely," Lee responded when asked if he could also play middle linebacker. "That's one of the things I'm trying to pick up here through this whole process and you could say this offseason. I'd say the more versatile I am to play inside and outside, the more I can bring to the team."
Lee added of playing inside linebacker that he could play it based on his football IQ.
"Just knowing formations, knowing the stunts that you've got with the D-line, just being more vocal," Lee said. "I'd say just taking it day by day, honestly. Just watching as much film as you possibly can."
Lee is projected by most to be locked in as a first-round pick. He believes his talents are worthy of a selection within the first 31 picks, too.
"Because of how I approach the game, my passion for the game and my work ethic," Lee said of why he thinks he's a first-round pick. "When I'm not on the field, just what I do – how I carry myself, the drills I constantly do, the film I watch. I'm still learning linebacker. It will be three years in a couple weeks I've been playing the position. I still have a lot to learn."