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NFL Draft Prospect Preview - Lee Hunter

by J.T. Toth


Photo courtesy of UCF Athletics.


At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.


Today’s Spotlight - UCF, Defensive Tackle, Lee Hunter

Name - Lee Hunter

Pos - DT

Team - UCF

HT/WT - 6’4” 320 lbs.

Born- n/a

Home - Mobile, AL


Lee Hunter starred at defensive tackle for Blount High School in Mobile, Alabama. As a junior, he finished the season with 77 tackles with 23 tackles for a loss and was named a first team AHSAA Class 6A all-state. Entering his senior year, he was selected as a member of the AL.com A-list. Hunter was dominating once again as a senior, collecting 54 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss and 4.5 sacks. ESPN had him ranked as the no. 7 overall defensive tackle in the country and a top 5 overall prospect in the state of Alabama. He was selected to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game during his senior season and eventually committed to Auburn during the campaign. 


In 2021, Hunter did not make it on the field for Auburn and decided to enter the transfer portal at the end of the year. He decided to transfer to UCF to continue his collegiate football career. In his first season at UCF, Hunter played in 13 games in a rotational role on the defensive line. His playing time improved as the season progressed and he started dominating the line of scrimmage. He finished the season with 17 tackles and 1 sack and showed he had starting capability in his play.


Lee Hunter went from a future draft hopeful, to being a possible mid-round draft pick after his impressive 2023 season. In 13 starts, Hunter collected 69 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and 3 sacks for the Knights. 


Hunter has that combination of size and speed that will make him a handful on the defensive side of the ball. He is very efficient at timing the snap and explodes out of the 3-point stance with a low pad level. On pass rush downs, he brings pressure from the inside of the defensive line using his blend of power and speed and uses his length and active hands when battling blockers. His eyes are always on the ball even when engaging with blockers. Once he gets his strong hands onto a blocker's chest, he has the ability to shed and push off in whatever direction is needed. Hunter has the capability of clogging up lanes and holding up a running back for the linebackers to swoop in for easy tackles. For a defensive tackle, Hunter is a capable tackler who has enough chase speed to cause havoc in the backfield. 


On the downside, Hunter is a very raw player who does not have the technique and mechanics that many NFL teams like to see in their defensive tackles. He moves better in a straight line and lacks the flexibility and agility for a quick change of direction. Though he is an above average tackler, he has trouble breaking down in space and running backs who can cut effectively are a nightmare for him. When exploding off the ball he is not consistent with his pad level and tends to play upright too often. When he plays stiff, he loses his upper body power and is not as productive and lacks a repertoire of pass moves that he can spring onto a guard or center to change things up. 


Nick Williams was a 7th round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers out of Samford in 2013. Williams was raw when it came to his technique and mechanics but has improved over time. Williams has found a niche in the NFL as a rotational defensive tackle who can produce when called upon. As long as Hunter keeps improving his mechanics and footwork, he could also have a long, productive career in the NFL.


Strengths


  • Strength

  • Explosive, first step

  • Strong/active hands

  • Tackling


Weaknesses


  • Lack of pass rushing moves

  • Mechanics/technique

  • Agility/lateral movement

  • Misdirections


Final Analysis


Lee Hunter has a high ceiling and has some untouched potential still in his game. His strength and athleticism will keep NFL GM’s interested in him during the later rounds in the draft. He is a large body who should only get better with time.


Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 5th round or 6th round

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