Monday, January 11, 2016

2016 NFL Draft Profile #1 - Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

I have never been a scout or a NFL General Manager, but I am willing to watch a ton of football. By watching about 200 snaps of each prospect, we can really get a feel for a player and then know what we are talking about a bit better. It is no exact science, but the NFL hasn't quite figured out drafting either, so we are going to do the best we can.  Read more about the draft project here.
Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis - 6'7, 245 - RS Junior
Like the kid who grabs the biggest present first on Christmas morning, I am guilty of starting the 2016 Draft Project by grabbing one of my favorite players to watch this past college football season, Memphis' big QB, Paxton Lynch.
Lynch is one of the QBs who will be examined closely over the next four months to decide if he is worthy of one of those top spots at the very start of the draft for a team that needs its hope for the next decade.  Perhaps, you are aware that one of those teams shopping this aisle closely is your Dallas Cowboys.
We start with his height.  He is 6'7.  Once upon a time, we decided that QBs must be between 6'2 and 6'5.  Just about everyone was either in that group or they were labeled as "not ideal" if they were shorter or taller.  But, we are a bit more open-minded these days for the Joe Flacco's (6'6) and the Russell Wilson's (5'10) if they prove to be capable of getting it done.  Now, here comes 6'8 Brock Osweiler in Denver to soften the premise of Lynch at 6'7. 
But, he doesn't move like an awkward tall QB usually does.  In fact, he moves really well.  He prefers to move and make plays with his feet to open up opportunities with his arm.  He also, in some ways like Cam Newton, looks like he will be your best short yardage back option on 3rdand 1.  But the best part of Paxton Lynch is his arm.
What I liked:  There is no question that if you grab most Lynch games (I used primarily his games this fall against Ole Miss, Temple, and Houston), you will be very impressed with his ability to make every throw in the book.  He makes a few throws against Mississippi that are flat-out ridiculous, even for anyone on Sundays.  With those wide college hash-marks, he appeared to be demonstrating he could throw the NFL out-route to the far side on a rope to anyone evaluating his work.  He generally stays out of trouble, which is a very difficult trick against ranked opponents, to make incisive throws with small windows and high velocity, while almost never getting into trouble with defenders intercepting balls.  He threw just 4 interceptions against 28 touchdowns.  He moves his feet and then gets the footwork right before he throws on many occasions, but also seems to imitate Aaron Rodgers on the run where he often throws the ball without resetting them.  This is not advisable long-term, but it didn't seem to cause too many accuracy issues on the 200 plays I focused on.   He throws the slant on 3rd down like he was born to do it.  Ball placement is generally fantastic.  He keeps plays alive constantly with mobility and then delivers strikes.   He is also strong with keeping his eyes downfield and also setting up screens and using the mesh point to cause issues for defenders.
What I did not like:  He does have some accuracy issues with his over-the-top motion where it seems like he gets the release point wrong on occasion.  This is usually a shorter pass where he has to get the velocity right and on these he sometimes will bounce a pass or airmail it.  This seems correctable with some mechanics instruction.  He will, oddly for a man his height, get passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, which will lead to some chaotic outcomes at times.  Additionally, when Jared Goff and Carson Wentz were putting on unreal performances in their final college games which both happened to be in Dallas-Fort Worth, Lynch was having his worst day in a few seasons at the Birmingham Bowl in the rain against Auburn.  That was the first time many Cowboys' fans saw him, and their impressions were not positive.   It is also true that many will recoil at how much shotgun he plays.  But, he really makes it work.
Summary and Potential Fit For the Cowboys:  This is a real prospect to get excited about and to dig heavily into his material.  He seems to have all of the tools and a set of intangibles that have coaches raving positively on his behalf.  He is big, mobile, confident in all throws, able to manipulate coverage with his eyes, healthy, and competitive.  You might beat him, but he won't stop coming at you.   For a guy who was unranked and unrecruited (1 offer) out of high school, he has really turned himself into something.
If I am Dallas and he is available for selection, after doing this study I am left with 2 conclusions - although so much can change and so many others must be considered, first.  1) I absolutely would be excited to leave this draft with a prospect as good as Lynch and 2) I would want 12-24 months of not having to play him, if possible.  I believe he is going to be a very impressive pro, but I would like to buy as much time as possible to prepare and develop him for the incredibly hot seat he would assume in Dallas after Tony Romo. 

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