Monday, April 28, 2014

Jordan Lynch Under the NFL Microscope

Jordan Lynch had a bad day at the East-West Shrine game in January and it will take a long time for the memory of that game to die.  Players are tossed in and out of such games and if you are not doing well there is little hesitation for a coach to hold back a substitution.  In the Shrine Game, it looked like the defense was loaded up for the short passing plays and the receivers were running simple hook patterns.  Everyone looked tight and no one on offense was in rhythm at the time.

NIU games and the highlights are full of Lynch's runs, which are pretty instructive.  He has great lateral movement and used his skills to move behind his big lineman and pop into holes before the defenses saw him.  When he did get knocked down, he jumped up before the grass had time to settle on his uniform. 

Lynch is a couple inches shorter than today's prototype NFL quarterback, but he's taller than some.  His arm apparently is not nearly as strong as many of the top pros, but it's stronger than some.  His running game is better than most--he's fast and elusive--so much so that quite a few analysts believe he can play running back. His athleticism is a real plus so some say he could be a defensive back. Lynch tries to point out to people that he became what NIU needed, a running quarterback who could spread the field and keep the offense going against most any competitor.  Lynch was essentially the top QB at NIU for two years, so he's also a little raw.  It's difficult to determine his real potential.

As we said before, NFL history is full of players who moved from college quarterback to something else and it is also full of players who were good college players who came into the pros as questionable QB prospects and surprised a lot of people.  Joe Montana was a guy who had a lot of heart in college, but he was thought to be too inconsistent and weak-armed to be an NFL quarterback.  He proved them wrong. But I suppose for every 100 players who anticipate being the next Joe Montana-like underdog, there are at least 99  who don't make it.

Lynch completed 509 passes on 824 attempts for 6,209 yards giving him a 61.8% completion rate with 52 touchdowns and only 14 interceptions.  The analysts think he is not accurate enough for the pros.  His quarterback rating was 142.1 and he passed for 7.5 yards per attempt. The best quarterbacks have completion rates in the 60s in the pros--and most would have had much better rates in the college game. But it's trickly looking at a college completion rate and forecasting a completion rate in the pros.  Tim Tebow completed 661 passes on 995 attempts for 9,285 yards giving him a 66.4% completion rate with 88 touchdowns and only 16 interceptions. His quarterback rating was an awesome 170.8 and he passed for 9.3 yards per attempt.  It didn't work out that way in the pros--at least not yet! 

But it seems to me to be a little unfair to expect super accurate passing stats from a guy who gets whacked a bunch of times in a game on running plays and is looking to run half the time.  Jordan Lynch was an exceptional runner.  He rushed for 4,343 yards on 662 carries for an average of 6.6 yards per carry and 48 touchdowns. 

I am reminded of Bill Walsh's discernment of what makes a good quarterback--talent.  Walsh was not worried by Montana's inconsistencies at Notre Dame.  He saw his great talent and he knew what he could do, rather than focus on mistakes.  In this way, what might be critical for Jordan Lynch is that he is picked up by a team with a coach who sees potential. 

One  thing for sure is that the team that drafts Lynch or gives him a tryout will have some pretty smart people who will have a good feel for what's best for Lynch and the team he plays on.
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