*Our QB grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, leaked Wonderlic test results, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available. 

The top draft debate of 2015 is likely a battle of “Who is better—Paxton Lynch or Jared Goff?” Tennessee has the top overall pick, and obviously doesn’t care all that much. Cleveland is sitting with the second overall pick, and the next decade may depend on finding the right answer. At this stage of analysis, January 2015, before the NFL Combine and private workouts, it’s a 50-50 split for most football and draft analysts…some with Lynch mocked #2 to Cleveland, other with Goff going there.

To me, there is no debate. Jared Goff is clearly the better NFL prospect. When it comes to Lynch, my debate is whether he can even hang in the NFL, or whether he will be a disappointing bust-like pick.

You can read my scouting report on Goff, and will understand why I like Goff’s NFL prospectus. This report is focused on my study of Paxton Lynch, and I have to say—I was not all that impressed. I do see why he has drawn into a 50-50 showdown at the top with Goff for draft analysts, and I also understand why if I had to bet on it—I’d bet Lynch will be the consensus #1 QB by the process end. The reason…‘the look’.

It struck me when I turned on the tape. I had never watched one second of Paxton Lynch before I started studying his data and tape a few days ago. I didn’t realize/forgotten he was super-tall (6’6”) before I started the tape of the first game. I threw on the Memphis-Ole Miss 2015 game, and I was jarred; taken aback by my first glimpse of him. He is 6’6” +/-, and thick (240+ pounds)…and he has a strong arm…and look at that, he’s pretty mobile too. The first 3-4-5 plays I watched, I stopped the tape and went back to my QB formulas. Why do our computer models think this ‘fine’ specimen of a quarterback is not worthy of a passing grade in our system, or even close to it? Surely, a mistake was made somewhere. You don’t see college quarterbacks built like this. Suddenly, I know why everyone loves him so.

Therein lies the problem. We are deceived with our eyes…and being a Moneyball-styled scouting firm that prides itself on not being tricked by what we can see, I know better than this. Still, I mean…look at this guy. I fell right for it in a flash. I honestly thought there must be a mistake on our formulas. Remember, I started searching for our mistake a few plays in to watching him play for the first time. I watched a few plays, and was so smitten with what I saw, I paused the tape to re-look at data…I instantly leapt to conclusions. My mind had already made itself up…tall + arm + fairly mobile + a nice season + beat Ole Miss + people loved him—I was ‘in’. What’s not to love?

If you only watch a highlight reel, or cherry-pick a few plays from one of his games—you will instantly love him as an NFL prospect too. He looks the part. In this political primary season, as I write this, Lynch ‘looks Presidential’. He looks like the perfect quarterback at a glance. It’s going to be easy to fall into the trap. Our computer scouting models do not care about the way any QB looks. I doubled back, and set out to find out why our scouting models were rejecting this…and then I figured it out.

I started the Lynch studies by watching his Ole Miss tape—an upset win over an SEC power. Lynch was good—three TD passes (just one pick) and 384 yards passing. Prior to that win, Lynch led Memphis to a 5–0 start with 10 TD/0 INT. Memphis would go on to an 8–0 start, with Lynch tallying 18 TDs/1 INT as a passer. How can you not love that? Lynch handled Ole Miss, and has these great numbers. I thought, where is the issue? Then, I went to watch his game against Auburn in their bowl game—and I fell onto the answer.

Lynch got whacked by Auburn—43% completion percentage, 108 passing yards, 0 TD/1 INT. He was pretty bad. It was in this game that the light bulb went off. It wasn’t that he stepped up in competition—he had already fared well against Ole Miss. The issue was something many teams figured out soon after the Ole Miss game…because Lynch lost four of his last five games, throwing for just 3 TDs with 4 INTs in those four losses—the completion percentage, TDs, yards all dipping down the stretch of the season. Why? What had been figured out?

What I think teams figured out, and what makes Lynch a bit of a fraud NFL prospect…most of his success is coming from screen passes. I realize the football world is turning into a one giant bubble-screen offense, which has some merits, but basically you have this behemoth of a quarterback with a laser arm, and he’s basically running a passing game that every mildly talented, gimmick option/spread QB has run in college. I don’t mean Lynch threw more short passes than I would want to see…I mean, he basically has one mode—short passes between -5 and +5 yards from the line of scrimmage.

As I watched the Auburn game, it hit me about halfway in, so I went back to the beginning and tracked his throws in different detail. Here are my unofficial numbers:

I tracked two buckets of info on Lynch vs. Auburn: (1) passes that traveled five yards or less from the line of scrimmage (L.O.S.), and then anything thrown beyond 6+ yards of the L.O.S. I tracked his throws until the game got out of hand, and Auburn started backing into a prevent zone to get the game over with. In the five-yards-or-less category, I tracked him 8-of-9 (88.9%) passing…mostly bubble screens, lateral quick passes, and some short crossers on a rollout pass play. In his passes 6+ yards from the L.O.S., Lynch was 2-14 (14.3%). To be fair, there were a couple of drops, but you could also see—Lynch doesn’t want to play that game. His effectiveness, his magic trick, if you will, is basically tossing a variety of screens and rollout short passes…and then whatever the receivers do after that is his output.

I went back and watched the Houston game from mid-November 2015…a game Memphis lost, and I could see from the season data that Houston had a pretty decent defense in 2015. Lynch had solid output, 20–31 (64.5%) on his throws for 278 yards, with 2 TDs/1 INT…not a bad stat line, right? Consider, that Lynch’s two TD passes for the game were in the first half, and both were little dump-off passes that didn’t travel very far, and the receivers took off running, broke tackles and scored long TDs. Lynch got credit for 99 yards passing and 2 TDs on the two scoring plays, and I’d say the ball didn’t travel 10 yards total past the L.O.S. on the two throws. The Houston game was more a showcase of short, safe passes. Smart for the team, but not a preview of the next great NFL quarterback.

I circled back to the Ole Miss game and tracked passes five yards or less from the L.O.S., 6–10 yards, or 11+ yards. I tracked his throws until late in the contest, when the game was at hand for Memphis. When it mattered, Lynch was 18-for-20 (90%) passing five yards or less from the L.O.S., 12-for-16 (75%) from 6–10 yards, and 5-for-11 (45.4%) from 11+ yards downfield…and most of the throws not far past 10+ yards. I would also say most deeper completions for Lynch, 11–20 yards from the L.O.S. came on 3rd and long with Ole Miss playing softer coverage and keeping the play in front of them/not allowing a first down.

One of his TD passes against Ole Miss was a 31-yard throw. A rare Lynch dropping back, rolling out a bit and bending back and heaving one. It landed. When you see that play as part of the 3-4-5 play highlight package on ESPN when they talk about him…just know, you have to do a lot of cherry-picking to find throws like that from him. It wasn’t even all that great a throw or decision, it just led to a score against an SEC team. Most websites I see discussing Lynch, show that play as “See, look at that arm!” People are blissfully ignoring his trends/tape on his other 400+ throws from 2015. It’s not that he doesn’t have a strong arm. It’s just that he’s not comfortable or all that great using it downfield against better opponents. His arm looks cool, raped-fire on a one-step bubble screen pass/lateral quick pass…but most any QB can make those simple throws—they aren’t as effective in the NFL, if that’s all you got.

Soon after the Ole Miss game, I think opposing teams started to figure out Lynch, and tried to take away the screens, and force him to throw deep—because he’s uncomfortable doing it. Which is likely the reason Memphis went from an 8–0 start to a 4–5 finish.

When you watch the tape of Lynch, against the better opponents on his schedule—you’re really not watching him sit in the pocket and meticulously throw passes all over the field, including several long completions. No. You watch a really tall guy running a gimmicky, simplistic offense…the kind of offense that teams with a run-first QB, who struggles as a passer, would run—to take advantage of the skills he does have, and hide deficiencies. When I think of Lynch as the Memphis QB in 2015, I conjure up three images: Lynch is either handing off in the spread/read-option, or keeping it himself for a run, or is whipping a one-step quick pass +1/-1 yards from the L.O.S. to a receiver.

I take you through this long and winding road, not to say that Lynch is a sure-fire NFL bust. My point more so is that Lynch is not nearly ready for the NFL as is being led on—and he certainly has no business being ranked ahead of Jared Goff. Lynch ran a Wing-T offense in high school, was ignored by top colleges, and has played a gimmicky style of offense for Memphis. At the same time, Goff has been training as a pure pocket passer since leaving the womb. Goff has a pro-style manner, understanding. Lynch is a wild card. Honestly, if Lynch were 6’2”…no one is having this ‘is he #1 overall’ conversation, I believe. He stands out at a glance, as a freak because he’s really tall…a freak with some nice college numbers, and everyone jumps off a cliff.

Mississippi State QB prospect Dak Prescott has many of the same pros and cons as Lynch—not great throwing downfield but has good arm strength. Is mobile, but not jaw-dropping speed, just quick enough for college. However, Prescott faced SEC competition regularly, and did well…Lynch faced a much easier road in Conference USA. Prescott is 6’2”, maybe, and Lynch is 6’6” or so. Are the 4–5 extra inches worth a #1 overall ranking…while Prescott is debated as a 2nd-to-5th-round pick? Versus Auburn in 2015, Prescott had more passing yards (270 v. 108), more TD passes (2 v. 0), and better completion percentage (71% v. 43%) than did Lynch vs. the Tigers…and Miss State won at Auburn, while Auburn smoked Memphis on a neutral field.

Lynch is worth looking at for an NFL team, but the price tag may be insane to pay for ‘tall’.


Paxton Lynch, Through the Lens of Our QB Scouting Algorithm:

Wow, we went through a lot of data already on Lynch. Here’s a couple more tidbits…

Lynch against winning-record teams in the first half of his 2015 season: 4–0 record, 2.5 TD/0.3 INT, 371.8 passing yards, 69.1% Comp. Pct.

Lynch against winning-record teams in the first half of his 2015 season: 0–4 record, 0.8 TD/1.0 INT, 209.8 passing yards, 60.4% Comp. Pct.

Perhaps teams started figuring out something?

Rushing TDs in 2014 = 13. Rushing TDs in 2015 = 2. Nothing to read into that, just odd.

The Historical QB Prospects to Whom Paxton Lynch Most Compares Within Our System:

It seems a little too simplistic to compare Lynch to Brock Osweiler, because many will do that—and they should, because it fits. The comparison also doesn’t help his bid to be the #1 overall pick in the draft. Who sees ‘the next Brock Osweiler’ as something to take at the top of the draft? Will Lynch be mentored by a Hall of Famer for 3+ seasons, as well?

I shouldn’t poke Osweiler like that. I think part of Osweiler’s boring NFL run in 2015 was Gary Kubiak’s harness. What I’ve seen in Osweiler in the NFL, I’d say I see in Lynch for Memphis—safe passer, not flashy, nice arm, can get the job done, mobile enough. I think Osweiler is a little more talented, but you could argue they are similar prospects…with ‘tall’ strangely helping both of them. Take off 3-4-5 inches…who’s excited about them?

QB Grade






Adj. Comp. Pct.

Adj. Yds per Comp

Adj. Pass per TD

Adj. Pass per INT


Lynch, Paxton










Osweiler, Brock


Arizona St








Tannehill, Ryan


Texas A&M








Sorensen, Brad


So. Utah








Griffin, Ryan










Gabbert, Blaine










Walter, Andrew


Arizona St








Wilbert, Graham


Fla Atlantic







*“Adj” = A view of adjusted college output in our system…adjusted for strength of opponent.

**A score of 8.5+ is where we see a stronger correlation of QBs going onto become NFL good-to-great. A scouting score of 9.5+ is rarefied air—higher potential for becoming great-to-elite.

QBs scoring 6.0–8.0 are finding more success in the new passing era of the NFL (2014–on). Depending upon system and surrounding weapons, a 6.0–8.0 rated QB can do fine in today’s NFL—with the right circumstances…but they are not ‘the next Tom Brady’ guys, just NFL-useful guys.

2016 NFL Draft Outlook:

The cynic in me says Lynch will enamor scouts all draft season because of his size, and their constant referral to the Ole Miss game (conveniently ignoring the Auburn debacle). When they see Lynch at the NFL Combine, in shorts, they’ll fall more in love. It’s a visual thing.

The eternal optimist in me says that scouts and analysts will come to their senses, and realize Lynch is a fairly flawed prospect, one who will need time to groom in the NFL—that he’s not an overnight/instant success for a downtrodden franchise.

If I were an NFL GM, I’d certainly take an interest in possessing Lynch, and working with him to see if we could smooth out the rough edges. However, I’m not paying a super-premium to the top of the draft to go on a 3–4 year journey to one day wind up with the next Brock Osweiler. What NFL teams have that kind of time? Sure, if I could get him as a late 3rd or 4th+ rounder, maybe I take a look…but not as the 3rd or 4th overall pick in the draft.

NFL Outlook:   

I hope, for Lynch’s sake, that he is not thrown to the wolves right away. I don’t think he’s ready for the NFL. He has some tools. He could succeed in a Blake Bortles way, I’m sure. However, as a scout, you are searching for excellence, flawless, elite…and all those things you want like right now, not 3–4 years from now. In time, Lynch probably has his chance to start in the NFL. At best, I could see him as mediocre-to-good NFL starter in the right system. At worst, he’ll struggle to fit his style into the NFL, and people will start to forget him while he sits in development. I suspect he’s going to be forced into ‘savior mode’ early on, and it may be too big for him right away.