NIU's Lynch eager to prove he can be a quarterback in NFL
June Jones estimates he watched Jordan Lynch on TV four or five times this season.
Jones, who just completed his sixth season as Southern Methodist’s football coach, is working with the East team quarterbacks at the East-West Shrine Game, which begins at 3 p.m. today on NFL Network.
Watching Lynch dominate opposing defenses and put up eye-popping numbers, Jones was impressed by his competitiveness and athleticism.
However, Jones didn’t think he was a passing quarterback. The SMU coach who spent 11 seasons in the NFL, and was the Atlanta Falcons’ coach from 1994 to ’96, didn’t think Lynch was accurate enough.
However, Jones said Lynch, who completed 63.1 percent of his passes for 2,676 yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions his senior season, is a better passer than he realized after coaching him in practice this week.
“He [throws] all the timing throws very, very well,” Jones told the Daily Chronicle. “And he has thrown some deep balls that have been on the money and have been catchable and he’s thrown some others that have been accurate.”
Jones said Lynch has what it takes to be a quarterback at the NFL level, and believes Lynch, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting this past season, will be drafted.
“He’s going to get a chance to get a look as a quarterback in the National Football League,” Jones said. “I think once he gets in the NFL he needs to be with a coach and a team who nurtures him along.”
Lynch has been working out in Indianapolis and will go back there following the Shrine Game to prepare for the NFL Scouting Combine, which will take place Feb. 22-25 at the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium.
He’s been working out specifically as a quarterback in Florida during practice for the East-West Shrine Game, and has met with all 32 NFL teams this week.
“Half of them want me to play quarterback, half of them think I can be a good special teams player, fit the role there,” Lynch said. “My pitch is I’m a quarterback first, I’ll be willing to do whatever it takes to get on a team.”
Lynch is one of three quarterbacks on the East roster and one of the others is a name NIU fans are familiar with – Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo. The third quarterback is Jeff Mathews out of Cornell.
Lynch said Jones’ offense, which is what the the East will be running on Saturday at Tropicana Field, is similar to what he ran at NIU.
“Honestly it’s not much of a difference, they’re kind of like the run and shoot (at SMU),” Lynch said. “Kind of no huddle, spread, kind of fits well into what I do. He’s going to play to my strength.”
In the NFL, Lynch will have to take more snaps under center, something he didn’t do at all in NIU’s spread system.
These days, Jones doesn’t think that’s necessarily a huge change, and doesn’t believe it will be foreign to Lynch.
“If you look at the NFL right now, 30 percent of the game is really in the shotgun right now,” Jones said. “If you would have asked me that question 20 years ago, he would have had something to transition to.”