College: South Florida
Class: RS Sophomore
Weight: 249 pounds
Finesse/Speed Pass Rushing: Lynch is a terror off the edge. He consistently puts himself in a position to win off the snap with his immediate reaction to the snap and quickness off the line of scrimmage and up into his stance. Often times, such quickness is overwhelming. Although he does not win by attacking lineman’s frames, Lynch sports an array of finesse moves, like spins, swims, and such, as well as consistently showing impressive bend around the edge. Around the arch, Lynch’s speed is efficient. If he forces the quarterback to scramble, Lynch has the closing speed to ensure the sack. Without a doubt, speed rushing is Lynch’s most useful asset.
Edge Run Defense: On tosses, stretches, screen passes, and the like, Lynch shows superb ability to handle such situations. His fluidity in space and stunning closing speed allows him to contain the edge, forcing teams to attack the interior. Just as his pass rushing is, Lynch’s run defense is dependent solely on his speed traits.
Lack of Functional Strength: Despite being a speed threat on the edge, Lynch can not use strength in any area. He does not have the strength to directly attack lineman's frames and attempt to bull rush them. On the flip side of the aggression, if a lineman gets within Lynch’s frame, he rarely has the strength to rip them off. He also struggles with the same issue in the run game. When lineman move in front of him and get a hold of his frame, Lynch is as good as useless to that play.
Stunted Development: After having an unfathomable freshman season at Notre Dame, Lynch transferred away for personal reasons. Since he had not graduated, he had to take a year off from football, sadly stunting the growth of a terrifying young player. The year off hurt his development of general hand usage and similar “finer” traits needed from a defensive end.
NFL Comparison: Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers
The comparison is not perfect, but to be fair, none are. Matthews plays with more strength, but the burst, speed, and fluidity is all there. Both have natural ability to work the edge and get to the quarterback.
The “down year” and “weight issues” concerns are legitimate, but it is forgotten that he is still readjusting to football again. Lynch progressed as the 2013 season went on. His speed rushing traits are evident and can not be denied. The notion that he has mysteriously lost his talent is absurd. He is still worthy of a late first round pick.
The New Orleans Saints are in need of a dominant edge threat in their 3-4 defensive scheme and Lynch is a perfect fit. His speed around the edge will add an extra element to Rob Ryan’s defense.
Staying in the NFC North, the Atlanta Falcons could use Lynch’s pass rushing services. If they opt out of taking a pass rusher at 6 and Lynch is there in the second round, he should not be passed up.