After carving up offenses for the Northern Illinois Huskies for the past two years, former Huskies quarterback Jordan Lynch went undrafted int he 2014 NFL Draft. But, he did sign on with his hometown Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent.
Lynch shot into the public spotlight in a breakout junior season in 2012 in which he not only led the Huskies to a BCS bowl in his first season as NIU's starting QB, but also rewrote several NCAA records. Lynch's 1,815 rushing yards smashed the old NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback. He added 19 touchdowns on the ground, and 3,138 yards and 25 touchdowns (to six interceptions).
The Chicago native followed up with an even better senior season, and a third place finish in the Heisman race. Lynch lead the Huskies to an undefeated regular season, before ultimately falling to Bowling Green in the MAC Championship and Utah State in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Lynch broke his own NCAA single-season rushing record by a quarterback with 1,920 yards and 23 touchdowns, flirting with becoming the only player in NCAA history to run for 2,000 yards and throw for 2,000 yards in a season. He broke the NCAA record for rushing yards vs. Central Michigan this season by running for 316 yards. Then a few weeks later, broke that record by running for 321 yards vs. Western Michigan.
His passing numbers took a slight drop, as he threw for just 2,892 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions, but his accuracy improved. His completion percentage went from 60.2 percent to 62.6 percent, still not great for a quarterback though.
By far Lynch's best asset is his incredible athleticism and power. Unlike many dual threat QBs before him, Lynch wasn't effective because he was fast. In fact, he ran a pedestrian 4.76 40 at the Combine. But he runs with such power, and a downhill style, that it wasn't uncommon to watch him drag defenders into the endzone. In this play, Lynch flung a 250 pound defensive end off of him like a rag doll.
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NFL COMBINE RESULTS:
WEIGHT: 217 lbs
ARM LENGTH: 29 3/4''
40-YARD DASH: 4.76 sec
3-CONE DRILL: 6.55 sec
BROAD JUMP: 109''
Ultimately, it's Lynch's athletic ability, and strong showings at the Combine and his Pro Day that got him drafted. Despite his claims that he's an NFL caliber quarterback, his mechanics and accuracy aren't indicative of an NFL QB. One of the knocks against Lynch has also been that even if he can make NFL throws, he can't run an NFL offense. He played primarily out of the shotgun at NIU in sets that featured rolling pockets to maximize his ability to create plays with his legs. The routes were often simple one-look reads, and he tended to lock on to his primary target. Because of his ability to make plays with his legs he had a tendency to check out of passing plays if his top receiver wasn't available, and bust off a run.
But Lynch also possess limitless potential. He's a freak of an athlete who did the 3-cone drill in 6.55 seconds, faster than any running back at the Combine. He's strong, has excellent field vision, is explosive and agile, and can adapt to many positions. He has the skills of a good power running back. He has the skills of a solid safety (we know he can hit, and he played safety in high school). His drive to succeed and willingness to do whatever the team needs him to do are also huge assets. Though he believes he can be an NFL QB, he's not going to fight coaches to play QB, and will move to whatever position they see him fitting best at. Basically, he's the anti Tim Tebow.
Lynch is clearly a project player. But there's no denying he's one of the best raw athletes in this draft class. His impact likely won't be felt immediately, but with some time he could develop into a solid NFL player at whatever position he winds up at.