News broke early last week that the Cowboys brass have had great visits with Paxton Lynch, and that they plan to speak with him again prior to the draft, which is now only a little over a month away. In light of this, we thought it would be a good idea to take another in-depth look at Lynch.
The first thing you see with Lynch is his size. This is a guy who's 6'7″, 244lbs and has 10.25″ hands. He's a huge specimen. Build-wise, he reminds me of Joe Flacco. Side note, I shook Joe Flacco's hand a few months back and he's got 9.63″ hands and they were huge. Lynch's are over half an inch bigger, meaning he's got gigantic hands and should be able to hold on to the ball easier when in the face of pressure.
When I study guys, I don't just look at their tape. You can't. If you do that, you're only a little bit better than your friend who tells you someone's amazing when all they do is watch highlight tapes on YouTube. Not cool. So what else do I do? I watch interviews on the guy. I read up on his background. I do whatever I can to learn where these guys come from. Everyone knows that you can tell where someone's going by looking at where they've been.
After watching some of his interviews, he certainly seems like a good guy. Smiles a lot and says the right things. A lot of scouts and executives don't like hearing prospects name a team they'd like to play for (even the team the prospect names). When Lynch has been asked the same question, he politely side steps it and says he'd like to play for any of the 32. He's a guy who's willing to come in and start for a team on day one, or sit behind a veteran passer and learn for a year or two (cough cough).
He's from an athletic family, which is always a positive. His father played college basketball and his brother plays baseball.
As recently as last week, I had Paxton Lynch rated as my top quarterback in this draft. Honestly, he may still be there. His combination of athleticism and traits make him such an intriguing prospect for a quarterbacks coach to mold. If he could sit behind Romo for a year or two and soak up as much as he can about the position, he could be dangerous.
Paxton Lynch: Positives
This is a guy who knows what improvement means. He's the only one out of the top three quarterbacks this season to have played every game his last three years, AND improve in every major category. Courtesy of sports-reference.com, the table below shows the increase in all categories, something coaches love. Something they love more? Well, it's already been highlighted.
He's got a cannon of an arm. He's very underrated when you're talking about his athleticism. He has the ability to move within the pocket, and take off to run when the play breaks down. He's got a solid ability to throw on the run, although sometimes the passes can be off-target, and he has the awareness to reset his feet when rolling out to the left when he has time to. Fantastic ability to set his feet in the pocket and deliver a strike with his entire body. I absolutely love his accuracy. His bad throws seem to be more a product of pressure and throwaways. I love his ability to keep his eyes down field throughout the play. Regardless of whether he's in the pocket or rolling out, he seems to always scan the field to make a throw. He's able to hit his receivers in stride and allow them to pick up yards after the catch with ease.
You can see in the play below how the play calls for him to read the right defensive end and right corner. The wide receiver, seeing that the corner is playing deep, is taught to run his post across the face of the defensive back. As soon as he hits his back foot, Lynch sees that the DE has sunken too far into the flat. He shoots the ball into his receiver, anticipating that the route will be run correctly. The crisp throw allows the WR to pick up an additional 5-10 yards on the play. Solid throw.
Here's a great example of his accuracy on the run. One of the things I like most about this play is the zone that he's able to float the ball into. Unlike the first play where he guns the ball into his wide receiver, on this play, Lynch shows the touch he's able to add to his passes.
On a designed roll-out to the right, his first read is the linebackers, and whether they bite on the play action or not. If they do, he knows to keep his eyes downfield on the safeties because he's got his two receivers running parallel post routes. Because of this, he has a good feeling that the outside receiver is going to draw the safeties up the field, and he should have a good chance at a throw underneath to #83. If the linebackers don't bite on the play action, you probably see him dump the ball off to the fullback in the flat, or try to run for a few yards.
My favorite part about the play is the touch he puts in the ball without setting his feet. It's sort of an Aaron Rodgers-like dump pass where he just knows he can fit the ball right over the linebacker's head, and before the safeties.
Paxton Lynch: Negatives
I'd like to see him step up in the pocket more. There are too many plays where he prematurely takes off to run, and rolls out to the right. There are a lot of yards he leaves on the field because he tries to do too much with his legs.
In the play below, he gets nervous when he sees the man coverage. He's too quick in dismissing his outside receiver running up field from the right. If he's able to keep his eyes up and be prepared to throw, since the corner covering the crossing receiver peels off at the end of the run to tackle the quarterback, Lynch may have had the ability to toss the ball to the receiver in the middle of the field.
Here's a still image illustrating my point. He could've led the receiver to the middle of the field. Keep in mind that the receiver is still running to the middle of the field, but the corner has stopped to come back to tackle the quarterback. It's certainly a tight window, but those are the types of plays you're going to have to make on the next level. He does a great job of escaping the collapsing pocket, but he needs to finish it off my making the throw in the face of pressure.
Some other negative observations include the scheme he played in at Memphis. Very rarely did he take a snap under center. In fact, I can't recall a good play he had from any sort of under center formation. A lot of his throws are pre-determined reads or screens. I'd like to see him use his eyes and scan the field more. I think this is where Wentz and Goff have a lead over him.
He's got a little bit of a wind up in his throwing motion, causing him to take a little longer to get rid of the ball. Because of his longer wind up and long limbs, he's going to have to be careful on his drop-backs. Defensive ends and outside linebackers are going to lick their chops if he doesn't step up in the pocket because they'll be able to force fumbles at the top of the drop-back.
Overall, I think Paxton Lynch is a first round quarterback all day long. You draft a guy based on his traits, not his production. Lynch's measurables are off the charts, and he possesses the arm and accuracy that quarterback coaches love.
So, in light of recent events, would you draft Paxton Lynch in the first round?