Jets' first-rounder Darron Lee ready to 'alter the game'
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) Darron Lee is certainly confident, the type of playmaker who believes he can make an immediate impact for the New York Jets.
The former Ohio State linebacker thinks of himself as a big-time playmaker, and he's not afraid to tell you what his biggest strength is on the field.
''I'm going to make some play that's going to alter the game, help us win the game,'' Lee said at his introductory news conference Friday. ''I'm very good at that, and can do it consistently.''
Sounds like just the type of guy coach Todd Bowles was looking for to add to his defense. Lee was the 20th overall pick Thursday night and his speed and athleticism were highlighted by both Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan.
''It's been one heck of a ride,'' Lee said. ''I came a long way, but personally I feel I'm just getting started. I personally feel that I'm only going to keep getting better. I'm raw at the position, but I'm a very, very fast learner. That's why I got on the field pretty quickly at Ohio State. I feel that the sky is the limit for me.''
Lee had 12 sacks in just two seasons with the Buckeyes after redshirting as a true freshman and converting from high school quarterback and safety. His size - he's listed at 6-foot-1 and 232 pounds by the Jets, although he said he's about 237 - is a bit smaller than traditional linebackers.
But Lee won't be your everyday-type of linebacker in the Jets defense.
Bowles called Lee an inside linebacker who could also play multiple spots on the defense. He'll play in the nickel defense to start, and back up Erin Henderson in the base defense. Either way, Bowles envisions the 21-year-old Lee as a potential three-down linebacker for the Jets - no matter what critics might say about his size and wonder if he can't play in the box.
''All I have to say to that is, click on the Wisconsin tape,'' Lee said. ''That's all I have to say.''
And, what will that tape from 2014 show?
''We won, 59-0,'' Lee said, laughing, ''and that I can take on bigger guys and take on a fullback.''
Lee's biggest asset might be his speed, which was on full display at the NFL combine in February, when he ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.47 seconds.
He was tasked with covering the speedy Braxton Miller during practice at Ohio State, so he feels he's ready to help the Jets cover playmaking tight ends in the NFL, such as New England's Rob Gronkowski.
''That's definitely going to be a challenge,'' Lee said. ''What you see with Gronk, what he's done over the years, he's a heck of a football player. He's going to be a tough challenge in and of himself.''
Lee also thinks his dedication and desire to win will quickly make him a favorite of Jets fans.
''You'll see that, but I want you to feel it, you know what I mean?'' Lee said. ''I want you to feel my passion and energy, how I genuinely care about this game.''
Lee handled his first news conference with the New York-area media with ease, showing a calm and cool demeanor. And, that's really no surprise. After all, his mother Candice is a television reporter and weekend anchor for an NBC affiliate in Columbus, Ohio.
''She played a main role, a huge role, honestly,'' Lee said. ''Just seeing her approach to how she works, her work ethic is unbelievable. You don't see many work ethics like hers.''
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