According to all indications, former Memphis star quarterback Paxton Lynch is going to be a first round pick in this year’s NFL draft. But teams are keeping a close eye on him to try and get the definitive evaluation, with the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints meeting with him or scouting him during pro day.
The thing teams find special about Lynch is obviously his size and speed, but he differs from the typical run-threat quarterback by still trying to extend plays with his feet in the pocket instead of bolting from it and running out. He reads defenses pretty well and is going to go off for the occasional big run, but he isn’t your Vince Young or Colin Kaepernick type. He feels more comfortable in the pocket, but needs the freedom to be able to bust out on a long run once in awhile.
Physically, he looks like a player who could start right away, but he’s probably a bit raw for that. In any case, the teams looking at him probably don’t plan on starting him right away, which should be good news for Lynch. The Cowboys, Bills, Chargers and Saints all have an immovable object at quarterback barring injury, at least for one more season. This puts Lynch as something of an heir-apprentice type role, which isn’t bad for quarterbacks who still have something to work on with the coaches, while learning from an experienced starter in front of him.
Lynch was something of a steal for Memphis due to him sitting out part of his senior year, otherwise he would have gone to one of the Florida schools. He faced two SEC defenses last season. Against Ole Miss he shined with a 39-for-53, 386-yard, three-touchdown performance, but Auburn, in the bowl game, decided to make an example of him. Memphis were falling apart by that point, and Lynch had a bad bowl game, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt his draft stock.
Teams like the Cowboys, Chargers and 49ers might be picking a bit too soon to take Lynch with their first selection. He seems more reasonable for the Bills, Saints or anyone else later in the first, but when you feel a player is the guy you want, why not go for him? We could see some in-round trades to position for Lynch in a more reasonable spot, because he seems like first round talent, but when it’s for the backup positions, teams still prefer choosing someone who can contribute right away.