NEW YORK — With seven receivers invited to Radio City Music Hall for the NFL Draft, there was a pretty good chance a few were going to be staying in Manhattan for an extra day.
Southern California's Marqise Lee, who left school after his junior season, was one of the three wideouts returning to the landmark theater Friday, although he didn't need to wait there very long. Lee became the first receiver off the board on Day 2 when the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him with the seventh pick (39th overall) of the second round.
Lee admits that dropping to the second day was frustrating, but that there were plenty of positives.
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"I got a chance to go back to the hotel and sit down and think about it and talk to my mom about it," he said. "One thing we talked about was a lot of people thought I wasn't going to be here as far as making it to New York and even playing football. I'm happy to go the number where I went and have the opportunity to play for a team and a place to call home."
As a kid who bounced through foster care numerous times during his childhood in Los Angeles, finding that stability hasn't always been easy.
He'll have a fellow rookie to grow with in quarterback Blake Bortles, who Jacksonville drafted with the third overall pick on Thursday.
"Blake's a great guy," Lee said. "That wasn't the plan but it ended up this way."
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Lee, who won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top wideout during his 2012 sophomore season, likely would have been one of the top receivers selected had he been eligible to enter last year's draft. After registering 191 catches for 2,864 yards and 25 touchdowns over his first two seasons at USC, he caught 57 passes for 791 yards and four touchdowns as a junior due to a sprained MCL that hampered him the final two months of the season.
"I felt like a lot of teams didn't know what to really expect with the knee," Lee said. "I'm 100. Like I said before we even got to Indianapolis and even after Indianapolis and after the doctors checked I was still 100. Now I'm on Jacksonville and I'm about to get it going."