The Memphis Tigers have been experiencing an outstanding season so far, and that comes in big part to outstanding quarterback play by their junior signal caller, Paxton Lynch. After watching a few of Lynch's games, it was quite apparent to me that the 6-7, 245 pound quarterback is a future NFL starter and he could be quite a good one at that.
Obviously the first thing that stands out about Lynch is his size. 6-7 is the size of offensive tackles and power forwards, not your usual quarterback. Lynch also has a thick build that should theoretically keep him out of injuries way in the pocket. Despite his immense size, Lynch is no statue. He is not a burner at quarterback by any means, but he has the athletic ability to make plays outside the pocket and pick up yards in critical situations with his feet. Obviously, the most important part of Lynch is his ability as a passer.
In Memphis' offense, a lot of the throws are schemed up. There is a bevy of screens and short passes cued up on the first reads to keep the offense in rhythm. Lynch does an outstanding job running the system very efficiently and will always be able to make that easy play. Of course, that is not a shining trait, but Lynch is obviously smart and collected to the point where he functions very well inside of the system.
When plays break down, Lynch can still thrive.
The thing I love about Paxton Lynch is how calm, cool and collected he seems. Does not matter the stage, he rises to the occasion whereas other top quarterback prospects this year have wilted against better teams. If a receiver drops a pass, he will come back right to him. If he takes a big hit in the pocket, he will spring right back up. If he makes a mistake passing, he does not let it snowball. Short memories are incredibly important for quarterbacks.
It is important to take a holistic when evaluating quarterbacks. They have the biggest impact on the game and no skill player touches the ball as much as them. Isolating single throws and decisions to judge a quarterback is practically useless. It is about what they did over the course of the entire game. What were their highs? What were their lows? How much was there in-between? How poised did they stay throughout the game? It is incredibly important to not got pulled in by a quarterback based on a few plays out of 50 just like it is important to not get pushed away from a quarterback for the same reason. I advise everyone takes this approach when looking at quarterbacks because this class has a lot of guys where that approach is absolutely imperative.
But I digress...
When plays break down, or Lynch is forced to go downfield, he often excels. He can move around the pocket or move outside while keeping square to the play and his eyes downfield. He has excellent arm strength and loses very little while throwing off base or on the move. His decision making can get a bit reckless, but sometimes that is the mentality you need on a third and long.
Lynch's biggest issues come in part due to his size. Due to his long arms, it is difficult for him to have a compact release. He tends to get into a wind up motion for throws which allows defenders to time to jump to passes before they get there. Also, because he has to throw downward on short and intermediate passes, he can be a bit off mark, especially at the intermediate level. I am not sure how fixable that is, but his release can definitely get tightened up. Aside from that, he has some footwork issues inside the pocket and is too often relying on pure arm strength to get a pass to it's spot.
NFL Comparison: Lynch reminds me a lot of Jaguars quarterback, Blake Bortles. Each have outstanding size and poise in the pocket with the athletic ability to extend plays. Like Bortles, Lynch is at his best when he is attacking down the field, though he does not get to do it nearly enough in the current offense he is in. Similarly, they both had a lot of mechanical issues coming out of college that included their feet and their releases. However, I do think Lynch is a smarter quarterback than Bortles, but does not have quite the consistent game breaking passing mentality as Bortles... Though that could be a product of the offenses they play in.
Lynch would be outstanding in Philadelphia. He runs a lot of similar plays at Memphis that the Eagles run and his ability to throw on the move and get the ball downfield is heavily enticing. He needs to clean up a lot of aspects of his game and I will be interested to see how well he consistently go through his reads in the pros, but all of the ability is there for a high level starting quarterback. Of all the quarterbacks in this class, Lynch should be the first one taken based on his physical and mental tools. He is not the type of quarterback I would aggressively make moves for, but definitely would love the value of getting him at the back end of the first round or at the top of the second round.