Joseph's Gems: Hurricanes' Lee is the Underdog you Love to have in the Trenches

For this Center, it really is all about the "Size of the Fight in the Dog"


We're one week away from the 1st Round of the 2024 NFL Draft, and this scout is tired! But in the 11th hour, like front offices league-wide, you just can't quit. You never know when that crucial piece of information on a prospect or prospects will come in and remake your entire Big Board (about that Nags....I promise I'm working on it). Gems is back for a couple more editions before all hell breaks loose when Roger Goodell steps to that podium in Detroit.

Part IV of Gems covers Miami Hurricanes' Center Matt Lee.


Matt Lee was an Offensive Tackle prospect out of Oviedo, FL (Hagerty). He was a 3-Star prospect from ESPN and 24/7 Sports. He received some interest, with offers from USF, Air Force, Army, Harvard, and Yale before committing to the hometown favorite, UCF.

Lee was able to contribute his Freshman season for the Golden Knights, playing primarily at LG with some introduction to C. Once he made the switch he never looked back and played in 35 games at Center before using is additional COVID-19 year advantage to transfer to Miami as a 5th-Year Senior where he played an additional 12 games. Across 50 games in his college career, Matt only surrendered 5 sacks, with the most recent being in 2022. For his standout season in 2023, Lee was invited to the East-West Shrine Bowl, where he shined in practice and surrendered zero pressures on 21 snaps.


Matt Lee is a Center-Only prospect, so he's not very "sexy". But for what's asked of him to do, he does it quite well. He's the guy you want in front of you when you need to push the pile. While certainly not the greatest athlete, I'd never call him a poor one either. He's a little on the slender side, but he's much stronger than you might think. He may not get to the second level every time, but he cleans up his primary assignment with efficiency. There were a couple instances where the more twitchier rushers gave him trouble, but again, most OCs are not known for their bend or quickness. However, when the ball is snapped, Matt Lee gets his hands on you quick, and outside of the more smooth movers at Nose Tackle, most defenders will have problems getting around him if matched up 1-on-1. He understands leverage and while he may not be the strongest guy on the line, he knows how to stymie a defender to give his QB time or make way for the rusher coming up the middle. I don't need Matt Lee to be sexy like a franchise OT, I just need him to give me that couple extra inches of breathing room so A.J. Dillon can seemingly stop tripping over his own feet. (Did I just say that?) For that, he'll do.


The ACC showcased Matt's highlights here:




Where does Matt Lee fall in this Center Class? Ehhh...he's definitely Top 10. Oregon's Jackson Powers-Johnson and Duke's Graham Barton are deadlocked for 1st and 2nd Place most likely, and West Virginia's Zach Frazier is locked in for 3rd. Beyond that? Wisconsin's Tanor Bortolini I'd probably give the 4th spot. Beyond that? It's anyone's guess. I'd probably slide Matt Lee at 5th, but he's got close competition from Arkansas' Beau Limmer and Georgia's Sedrick Van Pran, with Michigan's Drake Nugent not far behind either. Oklahoma's Andrew Raym and Penn State's Hunter Nourzad round out the rest of the group. Center is a tough position to project because most are generally undersized and/or poor athletes. After the initial class leaders, it's questionable who will get drafted at all. The Top 3 this year is an anomaly; you traditionally may not see the first Center come off the board until the 3rd Round in many draft classes. For what it's worth, he's got a solid "draftable grade", but as you all know, we'll get into that later.


But for those who don't, what's a Gem?

Size - Adequate height and weight for the position (Within my parameters but with historical precedents, more on that later)

RAS - Must be able to compete at the NFL Level

Production - Gotta be a stat sheet stuffer. 

Competition - Power 5 vs Group of 5 vs FCS and below, it matters. 

Gems have to check at least 3 out of 4 of those boxes. If a player checks all 4, consider him SOLID GOLD as Certified by your favorite "GM-ologist" (Get it?)




Matt Lee checks in at 6'4, 301lbs. This weight is new for Lee, as he checked in at the Shrine Bowl at only 288. So it's safe to say he's working on getting even stronger than he was in his Senior Year. He's got slightly short arms at 32 1/8th inches. Again, we're talking Centers here guys. Not sexy, but he's in the mold of an NFL OC. For what it's worth, current Packers Center Josh Myers arms are an even 32 inches despite being taller, so maybe Lee could be an improvement. It is a game of inches after all. Check.



I adjusted Lee's height to fit his measurements at the NFL Combine. The "official" score from Math Bomb is 8.66. Now Josh Myers didn't test much when he came in which I believe was probably in his best interest at the time. So while we don't have sufficient testing data, I'm going to say Lee is a better athlete out the gate. He has a better vertical (31 compared to 29), and the only thing Myers has on him is hand size based on the data available.

Now the better comparison is former standout Center Corey Linsley. Linsley may be shorter at 6'2, but he made up for it in strength (36 reps on the bench). Linsley was a hair quicker in the 20, (2.82 vs 2.93), and also outright beat Lee in agility, (4.53 shuttle and 7.46 3-Cone vs Lee's 4.69 and 7.97 respectively). Lee essentially "ties it up" however with a better vertical and broad jump (31 and 9.03 vs 27 and 8.11 for Linsley). I'm just spit ballin here, but the 8.80 RAS of Matt Lee today, could easily be a 9.13 after an NFL offseason of gains in the gym (Linsley came out at 9.19). Double Check.



50 games, only 5 sacks, with the most recent one being in 2022 and the other 4 being in 2021 and 2020. After becoming a full-time starter in 2020, Lee was a part of the 25th (210.7 RYPG), 29th (196.3 RYPG), and 9th (228.4 RYPG) best rushing offenses for the Golden Knights. As a Super Senior with the Hurricanes (who ran a pro-style offense instead of the run and gun of UCF) he helped support a 45th-best rushing offense that averaged 173.2 yards per game. Pro Football Focus gave Lee overall grades of 79.0, 82.5, and 75.6 for his last 3 years as a starter. Triple Check.



Lee performed admirably at a G5 school before moving on to a P5 school with essentially no drop-off. He's gone toe to toe with FSU's Braden Fiske and Clemson's Ruke Orhorhoro in 2023 and didn't surrender (Both Top 50 picks). Quadruple Check.



Size - Check

RAS - Check

Production - Check

Competition - Check


Based on my findings, Miami's Matt Lee is certified as SOLID GOLD who is a must-select in the 5th Round!!!!


Are the Packers interested in Matt Lee?

The conundrum for the 2024 Draft in my opinion is will the Packers be looking to move Zach Tom to Center or keep him at Tackle? I think the answer lies in how the board falls. If it doesn't go their way, Lee should be their's for the taking on Day 3. Will he immediately supplant Myers? Not immediately, but I could envision a Sean Rhyan-esque situation where the longer the season drags on, he could push for more time. If Lee were to show out during the preseason, we could have quite the competition underway. Seeing as there's no real depth behind Myers other than sliding Tom inside (which isn't as appetizing with Yosh Nijman no longer on the roster), at the very least Matt Lee locks up the #2 OC spot until the Packers decide to reinvest some serious capital at the position should Lee not turn out the way they hope.



We're almost to the opening bell guys, I MIGHT just have one more Gems left in me (Before Nags and Al gut me for not having the Big Board ready). Gems will be back one more time before the Draft festivities begin.






Joseph has been an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers since 1997, citing an affinity for dairy products during his childhood and his favorite color, green. Born in Jacksonville, FL, Joseph currently is an Active Duty servicemember in the U.S. Armed Forces. Joseph considers himself a lifelong fan of the game of football, competing since his youth well into adulthood. When it comes to the Pack, Joseph is particularly impassioned about the NFL Draft and collegiate scouting process, and will contribute regularly on leading to that year's upcoming Draft. You can follow him on Twitter at @joeyreyallday.


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3 points

Comments (4)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
ricky's picture

April 19, 2024 at 05:45 pm

It sounds like the Packers former center Scott Wells.

And the Packers spent years trying to find an upgrade/replacement for him, because they wanted someone better at the position. If the team is going to replace Myers, which seems to be likely, they should make sure it is someone they will remain happy with for many years, not a smaller version of Myers.

3 points
JosephR's picture

April 19, 2024 at 09:01 pm

I agree, but I don't Lee is in the same mold as Myers. Granted since Myers didn't test, it's hard to say. Given that Lee is closer to Linsley, I don't think Myers and Lee are similar.

1 points
TKWorldWide's picture

April 19, 2024 at 08:39 pm

Sounds like he’s got a shot. How the O-line shakes out after the draft will be one of the most interesting situations to follow with this year’s squad.

2 points
golfpacker1's picture

April 20, 2024 at 08:38 am

I guess I would ask are we just looking for Myers replacement who is about as good, or are we after somebody way better? We already made the initial mistake by picking Josh Myers over Creed Humphries, lets not do it a second time.

1 points