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Lions rookie Lee comfortable in receiver squeeze

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Jay Lee went undrafted and quickly had five teams trying to sign him as a free agent.

Even though he was the No. 4 wide receiver at Baylor as a junior and the No. 3 guy his senior season, many analysts expected Jay Lee to be among the players drafted this year.

Instead, Lee went undrafted and quickly had five teams trying to sign him as a free agent. He chose to join the Lions because he’d already met much of the coaching staff, doing a private workout with offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and coming to Allen Park for a pre-draft visit.

“I just felt comfortable in this type of environment,” he said after organized team activities last week.

Ultimately, though, most undrafted rookies and their agents look for a team that has an opportunity at their position, and in Detroit, Lee will have a chance to prove himself.

The Lions have a couple of proven playmakers in their receiving corps, but beyond Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, the other roles seem to be open for competition this summer.

Jeremy Kerley and TJ Jones will likely compete for slot duties as the No. 3 receiver. Based on Kerley’s experience with the Jets and Jones’ solid finish to 2015, those two should end up being the third and fourth options in some order.

So, every other receiver on the roster is probably fighting for the No. 5 job or to convince the Lions to keep six receivers. Andre Caldwell brings the most experience, and Corey Fuller has the most familiarity with the Lions.

Then there’s Lee, Quinshad Davis, Jace Billingsley, Ryan Spadola, Corey Washington and Austin Willis, receivers of different shapes and sizes that offer different skills.

The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Lee ran a 4.53-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, but his 19.9-yard average per reception in 2015 indicates he has deep-threat potential.

Lee had a career-high 758 receiving yards last year in Baylor’s high-flying offense, but he was the third option behind a couple of really good players — Corey Coleman, a first-round pick by Cleveland, and KD Cannon, who has nearly 1,900 receiving yards in his first two seasons in Waco, Texas.

Even though Baylor receivers have the chance to impress scouts in that potent offense, they also come to the NFL without as many proven traits as guys from other schools because of the limited route tree, among other limitations in that speed-first attack.

Fortunately for Lee, he can lean on Lions veterans as he makes his transition, and as the team prepares for the first full year in Cooter’s offense, everyone is learning something.

“It’s a big learning curve for everybody, even the vets,” Lee said.