Extra Points: Lynch tries to wake up his echoes
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - When talking about the NFL Draft, "can't miss" can turn into "never was" in a matter of months.
Player evaluation has always been more volatile than the stock market. Take Teddy Bridgewater, for instance. The former Louisville standout was the No. 1-rated prospect on many boards after taking his last snap for the Cardinals and the top-rated quarterback by a country mile.
Today, despite the fact Bridgewater has yet to take one competitive snap in the interim, numerous scouts have downgraded him behind fellow signal callers Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel, while some others have even vaulted Derek Carr, who has undergone his own roller-coaster ride during this process, ahead of him.
Tomorrow, the winds may shift again.
Aaron Lynch was once one of those can't miss NFL prospects, a surefire, future first-round pick after a dominating freshman season with one of college football's most storied programs -- Notre Dame -- in 2011.
A four-star recruit out of Cape Coral, Fla., the defensive end was a unanimous First-Team Freshman All-American after recording 33 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks, seven tackles for losses, 14 pressures and a forced fumble for the Fighting Irish that year.
Despite all of that early success in South Bend, however, and the potential to play alongside players like Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt -- two potential first-round selections in May's draft -- in ensuing seasons, the 6-foot-6 Sunshine State native felt homesick in Indiana.
"The reason why I made the move from Notre Dame was, one, the environment, it wasn't me, and then, two, I needed to be with my family, because my family is my everything," Lynch told ESPN back in 2013.
A transfer to South Florida, though, meant sitting out the 2012 college football season and by the time Lynch returned to the football field in Tampa, his lanky 270-pound frame had turned into an undersized, gangly 244-pound replica.
The prototypical length, long arms and pure skill level, which includes a tremendous first step, impressive flexibility and great functional football strength despite the low weight, remained, but Lynch's technique never really progressed during his time with the Bulls and instead of being a potential first-day pick, he's now regarded as a third-day option by most or, in a worst- case scenario, a priority free agent.
Many teams have character concerns regarding Lynch, who has admitted that he has been a selfish player at times, often freelancing at the expense of scheme. Motivation also has an issue and more than one scout has quietly confessed reservations over Lynch's motor, work ethic and desire to play the game.
Then, there is his technique or lack thereof. Mechanically, Lynch is the same player today as the one who walked away from the Irish football team in the middle of spring practice in 2012. He gets by on pure athleticism and has shown no attention to detail or aptitude to work on his fundamentals.
From a pure athletic and measureables standpoint, there is little question Lynch is a top-tier talent and it's likely he'll surface as a siren's song at some point for a franchise looking for a difference maker off the edge.
The fact that Lynch has gotten his weight back up to 260 pounds in pre-draft training is certainly a positive sign. He had 40-yard dash times of 4.66 and 4.68 seconds and posted a pedestrian 29-inch vertical jump at USF's pro day in early March, but he was still dealing with hamstring issues which kept him out of the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
One of the inevitable truths of football is that unfulfilled potential gets coaches fired.
A boom-or-bust type like Lynch going in the first or second round is a recipe for disaster, but taking that same player in the later rounds is a calculated gamble which could pay off big.
The Sports Network's top defensive ends in the 2014 NFL Draft:
1. - Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
2. - Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
3. - Kony Ealy, Missouri
4. - Scott Crichton, Oregon State
5. - Trent Murphy, Stanford
6. - Kareem Martin DE, North Carolina
7. - Ed Stinson, Alabama
8. - Chris Smith, Arkansas
9. - Josh Mauro, Stanford
10. - Will Clarke, West Virginia
The Sports Network's Stock Watch:
Sleeper - Ethan Westbrooks, West Texas A&M
Small School Standout - Larry Webster, Bloomsburg
Risk/Reward - Lynch
04/15 13:41:04 ET