Memphis redshirt junior quarterback Paxton Lynch is one of the most physically gifted at his position in the 2016 NFL Draft class. He possesses excellent size for the position at 6’7”, 244 lbs. with 10 ¼” hands. Lynch will be a 22-year old rookie.
The first thing that stands out when studying Paxton Lynch is his quick feet in the pocket. This allows him to get into a ready-to-throw position efficiently with little wasted movement. Lynch is a great athlete for his size and he does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield when scrambling. He possesses the speed and instincts to be an effective chain mover when he tucks and runs.
Lynch’s inconsistent mechanics lead to up and down throwing velocity. When in rhythm, he displays very good arm strength, but he does not consistently transfer his weight to drive the ball. This especially occurs when forced to reset and throw. Lynch is a streaky passer who goes through stretches of extreme ups and downs with his ball placement.
His accuracy is inconsistent to all levels of the field. He shows a tendency to miss high when throwing to the short and intermediate levels and does not always do a great job of giving receivers room to make plays on the ball when throwing deep routes down the sideline. Run-after-catch opportunities are minimized too often by Lynch’s inability to hit receivers in stride.
Lynch displays flashes of very good pocket presence, but must become more consistent in this area. There are times when he does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield when under duress, but like many athletic quarterbacks, when he becomes uncomfortable, his first instinct is to drop his eyes and run for the sticks. Lynch tends to force dangerous throws into traffic when facing pressure and must improve on understanding game situation and protecting the ball at all times.
The Memphis offense asked Lynch to make many predetermined throws and he was not expected to consistently read through progressions post-snap. He threw to an inordinate number of wide-open receivers throughout his college career and he was not tasked with anticipating and throwing into tight windows consistently.
Lynch’s field vision is inconsistent, as he does not always do a good job of finding the open man. He likes to see receivers come open before pulling the trigger and he has a bad habit of staring down targets and leading defenders to the ball with his eyes. Lynch shows a tendency to predetermine throws and he does not consistently do a good job of adjusting on the fly when the defense catches him off guard. This leads to forced throws into traffic.
In the short to intermediate game, Lynch’s anticipation must improve as he often throws a split second too late. When playing outside of structure, Lynch shows the ability to make throws from multiple platforms without having his feet set.
It is impossible to know how much the Memphis coaching staff trusted Lynch in regard to responsibilities at the line of scrimmage, but he must do a better job of recognizing when the pass rush has the offense outnumbered up front. Whether this is through changing the play, changing the protection, or simply getting the ball out hot, Lynch must improve on getting the offense in the best possible position.
Overall, Paxton Lynch must become a much more consistent player in all aspects to become an adequate NFL starter. Struggles with game management, ball placement to all levels, inexperience reading through progressions, and overall feel for the position lead me to believe Lynch is best served as a backup. Only if he can improve in these key areas will Lynch have a chance to develop into a solid starting NFL quarterback.
Paxton Lynch should only be considered by the Cleveland Browns if they choose against taking a quarterback on the first two days of the 2016 NFL Draft. Hue Jackson’s experience with developing quarterbacks could greatly benefit Lynch, but better options are likely to be available when they make their earlier selections.