Tanner Lee needed to redeem himself after the Senior Bowl. The former Nebraska quarterback had a forgetful outing in Mobile, Ala., completing 8 of 19 passes for 86 yards with an interception and fumble. By the end of the day, Lee was left to defend his skill set.
“I think I have a skill set that’s ready for the NFL,” Lee told Land of 10 after the Senior Bowl. “I’ve played a ton of college football and learned a lot of offense. I’ve been in many leadership positions on my teams. I’ve been a three-time captain, and I think I’m ready to take that next step in my career. I’m just chasing success and chasing my dream, and this is the next step.”
One month later, Lee had another shot to prove his abilities with an invitation to the 2018 NFL Combine in Indianapolis last week. Matt Miller, the NFL draft lead writer for Bleacher Report and host of the Stick to Football podcast, feels Lee made the the most of the opportunity.
“I think he helped [his draft stock],” Miller told Land of 10. “I really felt like he hurt himself at the Senior Bowl. He had a really rough Senior Bowl week, especially in contrast to the other quarterbacks that were on his roster who had fantastic weeks. I thought this was a chance for him to come out and kind of remind people that he’s still a young, athletic, strong-armed quarterback that’s worth developing. I think that’s a really important thing.”
- 40-yard dash: 4.98 seconds
- Vertical jump: 32.0 inches
- Broad jump: 115.0 inches
- 3-cone drill: 7.00 seconds
- 20-yard shuttle: 4.41 seconds
Lee, who is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, has quite a few selling points for NFL teams. Most notably are his experience behind center and his size. His arm talent is another major bonus, leading NFL.com to point out his “coveted physical traits.”
Another upside? Lee’s interview skills.
“Everything I’ve heard is that his interviews went really well and on the field, he did everything that I thought he could have,” Miller said. “For being who he is, he’s not going to run a super-great 40 time, but he ran a good time. In drills, he looked sharper than he did at the Senior Bowl. I think he helped as much as you can at an event like that.”
Lee’s biggest downside at this point is his touchdown-to-interception ratio. He finished his college career with 46 touchdowns and 37 interceptions, a concern for any team evaluating him.
However, Miller sees another area Lee may need to improve upon.
“His football IQ,” Miller said. “What does he understand about coverages and protections? How far along is he mentally, and how much work will a team have to do to get him caught up to speed? That’s honestly for him the most important thing right now. Where is he at in terms of how smart is he at football to understand coverages and all of the nuances they’re going to try to teach him right when they draft him?”
The answer to those questions may also answer whether or not the interception issue can be resolved.
The teams that will be eyeing Lee are those specifically looking for backup quarterbacks they can develop. That includes the Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals.
“I would also throw in a team like the [Los Angeles] Chargers who have to start thinking about quarterbacks in the future and getting someone under [Philip] Rivers to develop,” Miller said. “You don’t want to spend a super high draft pick on a guy because you still have an open window to win and improve. [Lee will go to a] team that wants to bring in a guy late in rounds 5, 6 or 7 that will have developmental potential.”
NFL.com: 5.0, which gives him a 50-50 chance to make an NFL roster
“I thought he tested as well as he could and knowing he did well in the interviews, I think that is so important,” Miller said.