Ryan Lee: From Unknown to Potential Roster Sleeper Overnight
by Steel34D on Aug 13, 2012 5:39 AM EDT
After breaking down the offensive line play of the Steelers in the first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Late in the game one player caught my eye, the offensive guard #69. This guard looked like a veteran out on the field and continued to impress not only with his blocks but with his intensity and awareness. I was excited at his play and wanted to not only grade him but decided to find out more about this #69. I immediately went to the Steelers website to find out who the mystery blocker was. It was Ryan Lee one of the Steelers undrafted free agent out of Furman. I have a feeling most of you were like me and knew nothing about this guy? I decided to create this post to give everyone some background information on Lee and break down his very impressive play from preseason game number one.
-Before his Black and Gold Appearance-
Ryan Lee played for the Furman Paladins on the offensive line. He played every position while at Furman but shined most notably at offensive guard. His biggest game was nationally televised against Florida in 2011. Lee also started for the American team at center in the Astroturf-NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in 2012. Here is a highlight film of his play against in 2011. In the highlights I am impressed to see just how dominant he was not only against lesser competition but even against SEC talent in Florida.
Ryan Lee Furman #60 White Jersey 6'3 309lbs Center Highlights Astro Turf All Star Game.m4v (via arnsports)
At his Pro Day he put up some impressive numbers. They are listed along with where they would have ranked if he were to put up those numbers at the combine.
Combine Rank (OL only)
40 yard dash
5.04s (Pro Day 03/09/2012)
40 yard dash (10 yard split)
1.70s (Pro Day 03/09/2012)
40 yard dash (20 yard split)
2.91s (Pro Day 03/09/2012)
Bench Press (225lbs)
40 reps (Pro Day 03/09/2012)
33.5" (Pro Day 03/09/2012)
8'9" (Pro Day 03/09/2012)
5.07s (Pro Day 03/09/2012)
3 Cone Drill
7.46s (Pro Day 03/09/2012)
His short shuttle is a little concerning being so low but not that big of a deal and the rest of his results are very good. So I bet you're thinking "How did a player who was this good in shorts and had that good of tape went undrafted?" Well here are his measurements from his Pro Day which may give you a clue.
Ryan Lee (23 years old)
Yes folks he has the exact same arm length as Doug Legursky. That is why he went undrafted. He is from a small school and doesn't have the physical upside most teams would like. Fortunately the Steelers aren't most teams. His arm length is an issue but if he can play with great technique (i.e. Wide, low base and getting his hands inside defender) it shouldn't hamper his ability too much.
-Against The Philadelphia Eagles-
Overall Grade: +3.0
Run Blocking Grade: +2.5
Pass Blocking Grade: +0.5
Ryan lee took part in 28 plays and he only had five plays where he earned a negative grade from me. Even better news they are all easily correctable mistakes. He was twice late off the ball which caused him to get a bad angle and driven back, good news he got in front of the player to stop them from making a play. In a screen pass he hesitated and completely failed in an attempt to block a linebacker in the open field though this is not as easy as it looks for an offensive linemen. The other two he came off high and allowed the defender to get into his chest and drive him two steps backwards in run blocking which compared to some of the back up linemen isn't that bad. Enough of the negatives lets look at the positives. Lee was ask to pull in a run play we are all familiar with good old 36 Power. He did a great job of leading Batch through the hole he made contact with Eagles LB #57 Clayton (a 3rd year player who plays mainly Special Teams for the Eagle) and drove him 3 yards backwards. On another run play the Steelers ran a off tackle play. The DT #77 was lined up in the 1 technique and slanted hard outside. Lee took his momentum and used it against him pushing him three yard to the left and then pancaking him. The final play I want to highlight happen on the last drive. It was a 2nd and 3 situation the Steelers lined up in a Weak I formation, the DT #74 was lined up as the 3 technique on Lee's side and slanted hard inside, they ran the ball to the right side. Lee the backside guard took this DT and drove him 6 yards off the ball and only stopped cause the whistle blew. Ryan Lee look good against the pass as well. He helped with the double team constantly yet even though he was helping he was always looking to both sides to see if there was pressure coming or if someone else need more help. He looked very aware in pass protection. Most importantly he never missed an assignment and didn't look like a rookie in his first NFL game out their. Why the only +0.5 passing grade then? Well he didn't have to block for long as one of the back up players allowed rusher to get in the backfield on nearly every pass play he was a part of and he was either being helped or helping another player for most of the night as the Eagles only sent for all game long it seemed. It was because of those that he earned just slightly above average grade in the passing game, he just wasn't ask to do much in pass protection. I would like to see him against better competition though instead of the two rookies he went against in the last game. Ryan Lee played a great game and got that game on tape, if he continues this trend I can easily see him as a practice squad player and potentially on the roster.