Five Play Prospect: Gators DL Jalen Lee Scouting Report
As the GatorMaven "Five Play Prospect" series continues - breaking down each of Florida's early signings with a five play scouting report - it's time to transition towards the defensive side of the ball and keep it rolling in the trenches.
Today, we will be taking a look at disruptive defensive tackle Jalen Lee, who hails from Live Oak High School (Watson, LA).
One of the keys to success within the SEC derives from being disruptive along the defensive line. The most likely way to create havoc would be via a dominant nose guard or defensive tackle. In Lee, the Gators signed a dominant interior defensive lineman that makes plays in the opponent’s backfield. He could play either interior defensive line position - nose or three-technique tackle.
There are many techniques within defensive line play in order to be disruptive. The swim move, rip, spin move, and so on and so forth. For Lee, who stands at 6-3, 306 lbs., his go-to move is the hand swipe. It’s simple in theory. Both of Lee’s hands start on one side of his body and he swipes to the opposite side his body. In doing so, the opposing offensive lineman’s hands are knocked away. Lee then runs into the backfield. While it sounds simple, it’s really not. Timing and accuracy are key while going full tilt towards the backfield.
Sometimes Lee does the hand swipe more subtly, sometimes it can be ‘violent hands’ the way college defensive line coaches prefer, truly defeating the opposing player. With time, he will master the technique. When he gets it right, Lee’s athleticism takes over as he gets his hips past the offensive lineman and makes a play in the backfield.
During this next play, Lee uses a rip move, but he also adds something that will make a defensive line coach happy: He sunk his hips down just a little bit to gain leverage.
Once a player of Lee’s size and strength gets leverage, it’s usually a winning rep. This play shows the rip move, and he does sink his hips just a little. What’s really important to note is that he’s still not even close to maximizing this move. With the coaching he will receive in Gainesville - the timing of the rip, plus Lee getting even lower during the back half of the move - he will be able to consistently use that combination and turn it into a great pass rushing move.
This next play is not at all about technique. Instead, it’s about instinct.
Lee is playing standing 7-technique. Instead of just rushing upfield, he holds his ground, waits, then immediately attacks the wide receiver on the screen pass.
Recognition is one of the key components of playing defense. Lee saw something that made him analyze the play and attacked the perimeter instead of going upfield unevaded. Being able to diagnose screen passes within the spread offense era can separate average players from great players. For a prospect his size, this is an incredibly athletic maneuver.
This play is something all interior defensive linemen need to do. They must engage the offensive lineman, double-punch, extend their arms into the body of the offensive linemen, "play half a man" in an attempt to see where the ball carrier is located, and attack.
Playing defensive line like this is not for the timid. It’s big-boy football - all about power. Lee’s lower body strength allowed him to slide to his right will keeping his arms extended and engaged with the offensive lineman, and he then attacks the football. Great play.
This last move is really unfinished business.
Sometimes a player is too talented for an opposing high school offensive lineman. Lee does about one-third of a swim move. He was just too quick for the opposing player to block him so it did not matter. He slightly lifts his right arm over the offensive lineman and goes right by.
At Florida, Lee will certainly use this same move, but he will also be able to finish with a full swim move to keep his right arm from being engaged with the offensive lineman. Or, he can add an additional counter move like a cross slap with his opposite hand to further disengage from the offensive lineman. Again, this is a 306 lb. high school senior running by a player much smaller. He’s a pure athlete.
Lee is a rare player. He can play 3-technique, nose guard, or even strong-side defensive end within specific situations like goal line. This planet does not possess a lot of athletes of this size and athleticism. It’s up to Lee and the Florida coaching staff to maximize his upside. With that, a couple of thoughts.
Combining Lee with Gervon Dexter along the interior is scary. Simply put, which player will an offensive line double team? Good luck with that player going one-on-one during obvious pass rushing situations.
It’s rare to sign one massive and athletic defensive lineman that is a bonafide pass rusher during a two or three year period with the type of upside either of these two players possess; signing two within the same class can change a defense for multiple seasons.
Again, it’s up to Lee. If he takes to the strength and conditioning program, and the coaching staff’s instruction, he could eventually be an NFL player. His upside is tremendous. Lee will have everything he needs in Gainesville to be a great college player and one day be drafted into the NFL.