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November 20, 2015

A look ahead to the 2016 quarterback class: Paxton Lynch edition

Eagles NFL
112015PaxtonLynch Mark Humphrey/AP

Paxton Lynch will be in Philly on Saturday.

With Sam Bradford officially listed as out this week against the Buccaneers, the Eagles will not have a QB start all 16 regular season games for the 21st time in the last 25 years. No team in the NFL has had a higher total over that span. If Bradford is not the Eagles' Week 1 starter in 2016, the Eagles will be starting their sixth different quarterback since 2009. That is incredible instability at the quarterback position.

Whether Bradford is back or not, enough is enough -- The Eagles need to find a way to get a quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft, which may not have a bona fide consensus No. 1 overall pick-type, but may have a good amount of depth.

During the offseason and continuing into the regular season, we started taking a look at some of the quarterbacks eligible to enter the 2016 NFL Draft. In case you missed those, you can find them here: 

• Michigan State's Connor Cook
• Ohio State's Cardale Jones
• USC's Cody Kessler
• Cal's Jared Goff
• Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel
• Mississippi State's Dak Prescott

To date, Goff was my favorite of the bunch, but there's a new contender -- Memphis' Paxton Lynch. According to Chris Steuber of Eagles Scouting Nest, Eagles quasi-GM Ed Marynowitz is going to check out Lynch this Saturday when Memphis comes to Philly to take on Temple. Steuber says it will be the second time Marynowitz has attended one of Lynch's games.

Let's start with Lynch's numbers on the season:

Comp-Att Comp % Yards YPA TD-INT 
 246-35868.7% 3292 9.2 21-3 

Obviously, those numbers are stellar, however, the completion percentages are somewhat skewed because Memphis throws a high number of bubble screens, as most schools now do. Still, Lynch can make every throw. In the games I watched, he threw deep balls, fades, deep outs, slants, back shoulder jawns, etc. So don't let the bubble screens fool you -- He can pass accurately on a wide assortment of throws.

Lynch has also rushed for 235 yards on the season, but we'll get into that shortly. I watched Lynch's games against Houston, Ole Miss, Cincinnati, and Tulsa, all from this season. You can view a library of his games via

Things I liked:


• The first obvious thing to like about Lynch, is his size, at 6'7, 245. Obviously, the advantage in that is that he not only can see over the line, he can throw over it with ease. Here's a good look at how Lynch's height is a big advantage. Mike Vick isn't making this throw:

Arm strength

The next obvious thing about Lynch is his arm strength. Lynch made a pair of deep throws against Tulsa worth showing. The first is actually a little off target. Ideally, this ball is a little further inside, but I'm being nit-picky here. This is an effortless throw that travels about 50 yards in the air.

This next one, however, is far more impressive. Here, Lynch throws a ball off his back foot 50 yards down the field without putting much air under it, on the money. All arm. "Wow" throw.

More arm, against Ole Miss:

And then watch the arm again here, against Houston. Lynch is rolling to his left while falling away, and he rips a 20+ yard throw on the money. Again, all arm. (Apologies for the blurriness of this one, but I think you'll get the idea).


Some quarterbacks with big arms often can't throttle it down. For example, we previewed Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel a few weeks ago. While Kiel has a good arm, he struggled making touch passes. Lynch has no such problems. Here's a nicely placed ball in the middle of the field against Houston. This is pretty.

And then look at this beauty over the defender to the back of the end zone against Tulsa:

Feel for the game

Coming from a smaller program like Memphis, and being something of a late riser, many are going to question Lynch's feel for the game. I have no such concerns. It is actually a major strength in his overall game, in my opinion.

Here's Memphis running Jon Gruden's favorite play, "Spider 2 Y Banana." Watch as Lynch rolls to his right, he hangs onto the ball seemingly longer than he should. Nope. Lynch has the advantage of a defender trying to cover his FB and TE simultaneously, however, the FB and TE are running their route too close together. Lynch has the poise to wait for them to separate, then fires a laser to the FB for a TD. Well done.

And then he's really good at the mesh point. We've seen the Eagles be terrible in that regard this season. Opposing defenses don't respect Sam Bradford as a runner at all, so his mesh is completely ineffective, while DeMarco Murray and Mark Sanchez were running into each other repeatedly last week. 

Lynch does an outstanding job with his fakes. He'll often be running and show an Elway-style pump fake past the line of scrimmage that defenders will bite on, and he's very crafty running the option. Here's a play in which Lynch faked out the cameraman on a keeper. 

Thinks I didn't like:

To note, everything here is nit-picky:

• Release: Lynch has a little bit of a windup, but we're not talking about Tim Tebow here. He just doesn't possess the same kind of quick release as Jared Goff, who we previewed this offseason.

• He doesn't slide, or at least I didn't see him slide once. If the Eagles draft him, the tradition of non-sliders will continue.

• Lynch was known to the scouting community before the season began, but he really took a major leap this year. Again, as noted above, I'm less concerned with it because I see a player with a great feel for the game. Others will want to see a longer body of work in which he was very impressive.

• Speed: The rep on Lynch is that he's some kind of dual-threat quarterback, or at least that's the perception I had of him before I sat down and really watched him. I'd be shocked if he ran something better than a 4.8 40 at the Combine. He is mobile enough to escape the pocket and make throws on the run at the next level, and he'll keep defenses honest if he's running zone read plays, but he's not going to be gobbling up chunks of yardage when a play breaks down.

• Lynch only has three interceptions on the season, and for the most part he makes good decisions. The ill-advised throws that I saw were when linebackers jumped into passing lanes and Lynch just didn't see them.

• On intermediate to deep throws, he'll often throw passes that are not tight spirals. They'll wobble on occasion (although they still get there).

Again, the negatives here are nit-picky.

Lynch is a clear first-round talent, and I'd be stunned if the Eagles weren't very intrigued by him.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

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