Sometimes you're not fully appreciated until you're not there. That was the case this past season with Bowling Green senior linebacker D.J Lynch. He suffered a knee injury the second game of the season and missed the next four games. In those games, the Falcon defense surrender a whopping 45+ points per game, more than 15 points per game above their season average.
When Lynch eventually returned to the starting line-up, the Falcon defense played much better and actually spearheaded a midseason stretch that carried the Falcons to a Mid-American Conference east division title. In his first game back from the injury, Lynch recorded eight tackle and a sack.
So it pretty clear what Lynch's veteran leadership meant to the Bowling Green Falcons in 2014. And, in 2013 Lynch played a full season and the Falcons had the best defense in the MAC and a top-10 ranking in the nation. As we now look ahead to the 2015 NFL Draft, the question now is how or will his skills translate at the next level?
As with many players coming from a non-Power 5 conference team, Lynch doesn't have the measurables that NFL teams look for. He stands only 6 feet tall but is solidly built at 252 pounds. His time in the forty-yard dash has been clocked anywhere between 4.62 and 4.84 according to the pro scouting services.
But lucky for Lynch, and hundreds of others just like him, you can't judge a football player just on those numbers alone. You have to factor in intangibles like football IQ, heart, desire, work ethic and ability to be coached.
After redshirting his first year at Bowling Green, Lynch saw plenty of action his freshman and sophomore seasons on special teams and as a reserve on defense. In 2103, Lynch started all 14 games at linebacker and was named second team All-MAC. He led the team in tackles with 85, including eight for loss and two sacks.
Despite missing four complete games and parts of two others in 2014, Lynch still managed to record 39 tackles on the year. And as stated earlier, the Falcon defense was a completely different unit with Lynch in the line-up this past season.
Lynch played outside linebacker in college but is projected to be moved inside as a pro prospect. He doesn't have the speed to play outside in the NFL. There have been players his size make it as run stopping inside linebackers, most notably London Fletcher (Redskins) and Joe Mays (Saints). However, those players had the quickness to roam sideline to sideline to make tackles. I am not sure Lynch has the same quickness to accomplish that at the next level?
Lynch is projected as a possible late-round NFL draft pick, but more likely an undrafted free agent that will make his way to camp with some NFL team. His draft chances will probably hinge on him doing something unexpected at the NFL combine if he gets an invite.
Like a lot of players, he's just looking for his chance later this summer to show what he's got.