Marqise Lee has been getting some unfavorable comparisons to former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts III lately. They stem largely due to his issues with soft tissue injuries, finding himself sidelined by a hamstring issue recently during training camp.
While Shorts is no longer with the team, signing
away his soul with the Houston Texans this offseason, Lee offers much more than the former top receiver ever did.
Shorts was an exciting player for the Jags when he was on the field. He came incredibly close to being the first Jags receiver to break 1000 yards since Jimmy Smith, falling just 21 yards short in 2012. He was an established big play threat. He could out battle defensive backs for the ball.
All those things were nice, but his inconsistency really hurt the team.
At the end of the day, Shorts found himself missing too much time on the field. From 2012 – when he started getting significant playing time – to 2014 he missed eight games. Those eight games in three seasons don’t sound like much, but the Jaguars offense was heavily reliant on his big play ability stretching the field and opening up opportunities underneath. Without him, the offense sputtered.
But it wasn’t just the lack of reliability in terms of injury. It was also that when he was on the field, Shorts wasn’t consistent. He led the Jaguars in drops last season despite being the only true veteran receiver on the team. He failed to spark big plays, with just 10.5 yards per reception, a career low. That lack of consistency saw him walk in free agency.
Will Marqise Lee be similar to Cecil Shorts?
I’m calling it early in Lee’s career, but I think it is clear that Lee is not going to be like Shorts.
While Lee is struggling with nagging injuries right now, I think it is clear that he is a far more consistent player on the field. We’re far from calling him injury-prone right now. He’s young, still growing into his role and his body, and he’s getting into the NFL-groove that demands more from a player each and every rep. Lee caught 8% more balls thrown his way than Shorts last season and demonstrated the ability to take any pass (not just deep passes) to the house.
Lee is growing as a player. He’s growing into a role as a dangerous pass catcher behind Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns right now. Expect him to develop further in his second year. While I don’t think he’ll be getting as close to 1000 yards as Shorts did in his second season, I do expect Lee to have demonstrate a more mature approach to the receiver position than Shorts managed during his four years in Jacksonville.
Marqise Lee has a lot of work to do to become something special, but he’s on his way despite the nagging injuries. He’ll show that he’s more dependable than at first glance.
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