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Thursday, May 1, 2014
Marqise Lee a 'fit' for the Eagles?

By Greg Katz

LOS ANGELES -- Recently I was with my significant other, and she endorsed the idea of taking in Kevin Costner’s latest sports flick, “Draft Day,” a story that revolves around pro football’s version of selective service.

Even ESPN’s Chris Berman and Jon Gruden as well as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were part of the cast just to add a sense of realism to the whole affair. The flick had its moments of fun and fantasy and offered a glimpse of the cold, cruel world of life inside the NFL’s biggest meat market spectacular.

As the film progressed, my significant other wanted to know if the events on the screen remotely resembled those in real life. After I assured her that they did, she became even more fascinated and promptly decided she should call audibles on how the plot would evolve.

Well, the other day I brought up to my new draftnik the Costner flick we had seen and pointed out a real-life situation as it applies to Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles.

Marqise Lee
USC WR Marqise Lee could be the perfect "fit" for Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles.
Kelly -- who used to coach at Oregon and now happens to have two former USC quarterbacks, Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley, on his roster -- and the Eagles recently released All-Pro wide receiver DeSean Jackson, once a highly touted recruit out of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High and intensely pursed by the Trojans under Pete Carroll at the time.

Despite his obvious talents, there have always been underlying questions surrounding Jackson when it comes to a questionable me-first attitude. These uncertainties date back to his days at Poly and continued when he shocked the recruiting world by spurning the Trojans and signing with the California Golden Bears.

The other day, Kelly said it was “purely a football decision,” and team owner Jeffrey Lurie reinforced that by commenting that “it was clear [to Kelly] it was not a fit.”

The release of Jackson has probably cleared the way for Kelly and the Eagles brass to select a wide receiver who best fits their needs at the position.

Kelly knows firsthand all about electrifying USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, who left school early to enter the draft, and it appears Lee may be exactly what Kelly is looking for in a team-oriented player with all-the-way skills.

Back in 2012, the Trojans faced one of Kelly’s juggernauts at Oregon. Lee, then a sophomore, accumulated 408 all-purpose yards (the 16th most in NCAA history) against the Ducks, including a Pac-12-record 251 kick return yards on a school-record eight kickoff returns and 157 receiving yards with two touchdowns (one a 75-yarder) on 12 receptions from Barkley.

It was that kind of performance that helped Lee win the 2012 Biletnikoff Award, as the nation’s most outstanding receiver, and secure unanimous All-America first team recognition from every conceivable polling booth. In that star-studded season, Lee accounted for 118 receptions for 1,721 yards (14.6 yards per catch) and 14 touchdowns.

Having coached in the Pac-12 from 2007-12, Kelly knows all about Jackson and Lee. Although Lee came to USC after Jackson’s departure to the NFL, Kelly has the character book on both players.

You certainly can’t take away what Jackson has already accomplished in the NFL, and you can’t take away the potential Lee could bring to the Eagles. It seems Lee, who battled nagging injuries in 2013 and didn’t have the kind of season he had in 2012, never stops smiling, never stops trying to get better, is beloved by teammates and is just a down-to-earth guy with no visible pretense.

Simply put, Lee -- who finished the 2013 season with 57 catches for 791 yards (13.9 ypc) and four touchdowns -- looks like a “fit” for Kelly based on Lee’s sophomore season.

Although Lee’s ability and strong character appear to be a need for the Eagles, like the movie “Draft Day,” things can become more complex than they seem when it comes to those fateful days in Radio City Music Hall.

For Kelly, beginning on the evening of May 8, he’ll star in his own draft-day production. And if this script goes according to plan, there are signs that his co-star could be Lee.