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2016 NFL Draft: is Paxton Lynch in play for the Buffalo Bills?

The Bills don't have a quarterback under contract after 2016. Should they take the athletic project quarterback from Memphis to have another entry to the franchise quarterback sweepstakes, at the expense of more pressing needs?

If there is one element of Buffalo's draft strategy to count on this year, it's that they'll pursue a quarterback. Doug Whaley has made it clear that his team needs another quarterback on the roster, citing the soon-to-expire contracts held by Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel. Given the high cost of veteran free agent quarterbacks and Buffalo's cap situation, the ideal solution will come from the NFL Draft.

Following the NFL Combine, the quarterback class has sorted into fairly structured tiers. At the top, in one order or another, are Cal's Jared Goff and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz. The former is a smooth rhythm passer with great touch on his throws, the latter a well-built Eli Manning type, with great arm talent and a propensity for risk-taking. Both players should be top-ten picks at the end of the process; one is seemingly already locked into Cleveland's pick.

Existing in the second tier (or, for some, the space between the first and second tiers) is Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch. His flaws are more apparent than the others, having played in a simple college offense with little in the way of NFL concepts. That said, he has an undeniable set of tools that would make any scout take notice - he's bigger than Wentz without losing out on burst or speed, and his arm is just as special.

With that in mind, Lynch would give Buffalo another shot at finding a franchise quarterback, assuming he makes it through to their first round pick. Teams like Philadelphia and Los Angeles would have to pass on him first. He'd spend at least a year on the bench before having any starting expectations, and would give the team insurance if Taylor doesn't work out (on the field or contractually). Is his potential enough to warrant Buffalo using their first round pick to have him sit the bench, instead of taking a more immediate need like linebacker or edge rusher? Read the notes below, then take a vote.



Year School Conf Class Pos G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
2013 Memphis American FR QB 12 203 349 58.2 2056 5.9 5.1 9 10 110.4
2014 Memphis American SO QB 13 259 413 62.7 3031 7.3 7.4 22 9 137.6
2015 Memphis American JR QB 13 296 443 66.8 3778 8.5 9.4 28 4 157.5
Career Memphis 758 1205 62.9 8865 7.4 7.5 59 23 137.0

Year School Conf Class Pos G Rushing Att Rushing Yds Rushing Avg Rushing TD
2013 Memphis American FR QB 12 88 127 1.4 2
2014 Memphis American SO QB 13 113 321 2.8 13
2015 Memphis American JR QB 13 87 239 2.7 2
Career Memphis 288 687 2.4 17

Scouting notes

Watched: Temple 15, Ole Miss 15, Houston 15, Navy 15

When I see Lynch play, I'm just not sure I see the easy NFL starter that much of the draft media has been projecting. Lynch is a huge 6'7" passer playing in a spread offense, and a large chunk of his production comes from receivers being thrown bubble screens and turning them into twelve yard gains.

Lynch has an excellent arm with tons of power, but he's like an inexperienced shooter trying a Desert Eagle for the first time. He struggles with touch and his throwing motion lacks a follow through; he'll only bring his right foot halfway forward before fading it back. He also has to learn how to throw from a muddy pocket. He has basically two throwing stances: a full-body flick on the run, and a standing throw from the pocket that needs him to position his legs just right. It's methodical and holds him back.

Mechanical inconsistency also can be a problem. While Lynch is capable of dropping some beautiful dimes, many of his throws require receivers to leap or dive to be caught. The lack of touch also leads to some drops when he throws a fastball at a target five yards downfield.

As for reading the field, most of Lynch's system is one read or improvise. He does do a few multiple read plays, and he generally makes good decisions when he has to reset and scan the other parts of the field, but he's inexperienced.

Under pressure, I worry about Lynch. He'll stand in the pocket, but as a big guy, he's not super mobile in small areas. He also looks a little frazzled when pressured, and I've seen him fold up more than I'd like under duress.

Brock Osweiler is the easy, lazy comparison to make. While he matches up very closely from a physical perspective, Osweiler had less college production and better mechanics, and I don't have a good comparison for Lynch in my head. Suffice to say, I can see the upside, but I think a team is making a big mistake if they hitch their horse to him in the first round, unless their plan is to sit him long-term.