Lions Draft Prospect of the Day: Matt Lee, IOL, Miami (FL)

USA Today

For much of the draft process this year, I’ve been thinking that the Lions are going to select an interior offensive lineman early in the 2024 NFL Draft. Maybe it’s not the first round but more so, day two. However, what if they don’t take one until later?

If they wait until the third day of the 2024 NFL Draft, I could see them liking Matt Lee from Miami (FL). He’s 6′ 4″ and 301 pounds with 32 1/8″ arms. Even though his frame is maxed out and his arm length is less than ideal, Lee is an excellent mover and overall a good technician. Let’s jump into some film to see what makes Lee so intriguing as a prospect.

Starting with this first play, the Hurricanes offensive line from the left tackle to the right guard are slide protecting to their left. Once the ball is snapped, you can see Lee pop out of his stance and look to his left for any defenders penetrating into that A-gap.

As the defensive tackle attempts to get through, you can see Lee wall-off the defender while latching onto the defenders chest plate. He stays square and under control through the rep and shows that he’s able to steer and direct the defender. Much of his reps in pass protection look like this and while they’re not overly flashy, he’s consistent across the board with his technique.

Whenever looking at interior offensive lineman for the Lions, I always urge to put the players that can move and get out in space at the top of the list. Matt Lee appears to be one of those players. He’s not overly fast but his feet move quick and he keeps his head on a swivel looking for someone to hit.

Looking at the play above, it’s a perfect example of what Lee provides when pulling and getting out in space. He pulls to the play-side and immediately looks inside to the linebacker (Clemson LB 0) that triggers downhill quickly. Lee gets square to the linebacker (Clemson LB 0) and most importantly, keeps his feet moving while working his hands. This gives the running back a slight opening and rather than the play going for negative yardage, it goes for positive yardage.

Lastly, I want to focus on the finishing ability from Lee. He’s not overly strong or one of the best finishers at the position. However, it’s encouraging when you see it on tape and know that he’s capable of driving defenders into the dirt.

Looking at the next play above, Lee is faced with defensive tackles aligned in both A-gaps. As he snaps the football, he combo blocks to his left with the left guard and as a linebacker makes his way through the line-of-scrimmage, the left guard hands the defensive tackle (Clemson IDL 11) off to Lee.

Square and locked into his chest, Lee shows good grip strength and the powered needed to steer and drive the defender into the dirt. This will need to become more consistent in the NFL but seeing the tools that Lee possesses will win draft rooms over for teams. The Lions could certainly be one of those teams.

Overall, size will always come up as a concern when talking about Matt Lee of the Hurricanes. Fortunately, he shows that’s capable and willing as a run and pass blocker with quick feet and good technique. In addition to that, he’s a good enough athlete to play either guard or center but he appears to be best suited to play center in a backup role to start his career.

If he ended up on the Lions, his role and growth as a player would be worth monitoring as the backup to starting center Frank Ragnow. With the injuries piling up and the longevity concerns around Ragnow, finding an adequate backup for him and the offensive line is important.

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