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NFL draft: Darron Lee picked No. 20 overall by the New York Jets

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Former OSU linebacker Darron Lee returns an interception for a touchdown during a game against Northern Illinois on Sept. 19. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo Editor

Former OSU linebacker Darron Lee returns an interception for a touchdown during a game against Northern Illinois on Sept. 19. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo Editor

Former Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee was selected by the Jets with the No. 20 pick in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft. Lee becomes the fifth Buckeye taken in the first round of this year’s draft.

NFL.com’s draft analyst Mike Mayock ranked Lee as the fourth-best linebacker prospect.

The local product of New Albany, Ohio, quickly became a dominant force for Urban Meyer’s “Silver Bullets.” Lee came into OSU as an athletic high school quarterback and safety recruit who was 6-foot-2 but hardly weighed 200 pounds. After sitting out his freshman season with a medical redshirt, Lee gained close to 30 pounds and started at outside linebacker in 2014.

With his bigger frame to go along with his incredible athleticism and lightning-quick speed, Buckeye fans saw Lee transform into a Big Ten linebacker poised for the spotlight.

In his first game with the Buckeyes, down 7-6 in the 2014 opener against Navy, Lee charged through the line to scoop up a fumble forced by defensive lineman Joey Bosa and took it the distance to give OSU a lead it would never relinquish.

The 6-foot-2, 232-pound linebacker totaled 81 tackles his redshirt freshman season, including 16.5 tackles for loss and seven and a half sacks. Lee was named an Associated Press Freshman All-American and defensive MVP in OSU’s Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama after he had three tackles for loss and two sacks.

In his redshirt sophomore campaign, Lee’s numbers went down slightly, but he still ended up with 66 tackles, 11 of which were for a loss, and four and a half sacks. His performance was enough for the AP to award the linebacker second-team All-American honors. Lee started 28 games for the Buckeyes in two seasons.

Lee ran the fastest time of all linebacker prospects at the NFL combine in February (4.47), and finished as a top performer in the vertical jump at 35.5 feet.

The Jets are scheduled to open up the 2016 regular season against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sep. 11 at 1 p.m.

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