Westlake graduate Lee selected in NFL draft by Raiders
Westlake graduate selected in NFL Draft by Oakland Raiders
Marquel Lee played the waiting game into day three of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Now, the next game the 2013 Westlake High School graduate will play will be as a member of the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders drafted Lee in the fifth round, the 168th overall selection, on Saturday. Lee was just the second player ever in Westlake’s history, the other was Randy Starks, a 2001 Westlake graduate who was selected in the third round by the Tennessee Titans in 2004.
“It was just a sense of relief to get drafted. This has always been my dream and it finally came true,” said Lee, a former Wake Forest University linebacker. “I was at home with my family watching the draft, went downstairs and that is when I got the call from the Raiders.”
Lee’s father Corey Lee, an assistant on the Westlake football team, grew up in Los Angeles and is a die-hard Raiders fan.
“It is extremely special to see all of Marquel’s hard work pay off,” Corey Lee said. “It was a blessing to see him get drafted to my favorite team. He has a tremendous upside. All of his high school coaches Dominic Zaccarelli, Marlon Curtis, Westlake pound-ball coaches and college coaches had a big impact on him.”
With a need to strengthen their defense, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie finally found the linebacker that they were looking for in Lee, who is expected to compete for a starting spot right away.
Lee fills need on Oakland’s roster for a middle linebacker who can help shore up the run defense, produce some pass rush and have responsibilities playing from sideline to sideline.
“I’ve been pretty good in coverage and I’m a very physical player at the line of scrimmage,” said the younger Lee on what he will bring to the Raiders. “I shed blocks well and go from sideline to sideline. My motor never stops.”
Last season, the Raiders were near the bottom finished last in the NFL in sacks with 25, allowed more 20-yard receptions than any team and gave up 4.5 yards per carry.
Strong efforts at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February helped Lee’s draft status. He up 25 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, which was the second most among linebackers, had a vertical leap of 31 inches and a broad jump of 118 inches.
At his NFL Pro Day in March, scouts raved at Lee’s physical stature at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds and his agility and athleticism, running a 4.6 40-yard dash time.
“I did a lot of drills in the combine that will translate to the field,” Lee said. “I just have to work on polishing my attack on the ball and going after the ball. That is what I have to improve on. In zone dropping, I feel that I can cover anybody.”
In his four years at Atlantic Coast Conference outfit Wake Forest, Lee was a three-year starter and one of the most tenacious linebackers in the conference. He had a breakout season as a sophomore, delivering 101 tackles, 12 for loss with four sacks. After 71 total tackles as a junior, he had the best season of his career as a senior with 105 tackles, 20 for loss, and 7.5 sacks with three forced fumbles.
He also boasted All-ACC second-team defense honors in his final season under Demon Deacons head coach Dave Clawson.
Lee helped lead the Demon Deacons to a 7-6 record and a 34-26 win over Temple in the Military Bowl in Annapolis. It was the first bowl win for the program since 2008.
At Westlake, Lee was a three-year starter and known as emotional leader and two-year captain. While he was an All-SMAC linebacker during his time with the Wolverines, he was the team’s starting quarterback as a junior, throwing for 800 yards that season.
Zaccarelli, Westlake’s athletic director and former head football coach, coached Lee for two seasons.
“When he got recruited by Wake Forest a lot of people didn’t think he was fast enough or good enough to play at the college level,” Zaccarelli said. “But time and time again Marquel refuses to be denied. He has tremendous work ethic and it is rewarding to see him get a degree from one of the top universities in the country and be able to play the game he loves at the pro level.”
Zaccarelli added: They are getting a high quality, physical linebacker with size and great pass rushing ability. “As he learns the game at the pro level he has a chance to do great things. He has always watched a lot of film, so he knows what he has to do.”
Curtis, also a former head football coach at Westlake, coached Lee in his senior season where the Wolverines finished with a 8-4 record. Curtis was a former offensive tackle for Wake Forest.
“Amazing. It truly is special because not only was apart of my first graduating class from Westlake as a head coach, he is now an alum of the same college I went to,” Curtis said. “I witnessed first hand how motivated Marquel is when he wants something. He trained with me early on and just continued to chase his dreams no matter what obstacles he may have encountered.”
Marquel Lee, a 2013 Westlake High School graduate out of Wake Forest University, was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday by the Oakland Raiders.
Marquel Lee, a 2013 Westlake High School graduate pictured here going through drills in the NFL Scouting Combine in February, was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday by the Oakland Raiders.