The Jets are banking on their 2016 first-round draft pick, LB Darron Lee, to be a vocal leader on defense this season, per NY Post's Fred Kerber.
David Harris and Darrelle Revis were the Jets' defensive leaders for the past few years. Now, with both being released this offseason, Lee seems to be the next guy up. He is confident in his abilities to lead as he feels more comfortable in the Jets' system.
"Absolutely," Lee said becoming a vocal leader. "Know the playbook pretty much backwards and forwards now. Really comfortable. I feel way comfortable. Unlike last year. Felt lost on some stuff. Now I know it backwards and forwards. Perfectly comfortable now."
Lee didn't have the rookie season he envisioned in 2016. He lacked in coverage and wasn't the bruiser the Jets drafted him to be. An ankle injury in Week 6, which forced him to miss three games, didn't help matters as it affected his performance. Pro Football Focus ranked him the worst linebacker of the 2016 draft class.
However, head coach Todd Bowles believes the 22-year-old is all there physically. It's the mental part of the game he needs to improve on.
"It's mentally for him," Bowles said. "Down there, you see a lot of things between run and passing, a lot of blocks and a lot of reads and a lot of tips. So it's mentally for him. But he's been more vocal the last three dsays and all spring and it's slowing down for him that way so hopefully the mental stuff makes his physical part a little easier."
The Ohio State product knows he needs to improve in his sophomore season to show he was worth the first-round selection. He is focused on making that leap.
"Definitely," Lee said. "Just improve from last year for sure. But definitely do a better job of putting my team in the best position to win and that's really all I'm focused on."
Lee played in 13 games last season, starting in nine. He finished with 73 combined tackles and one sack.