By Adam Hoge-
INDIANAPOLIS (CBS) — Why stop now?
Former Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch has been dealing with people telling him he can’t play quarterback for years now.
At each level, the doubts grow larger, even though his success at the position grows, too.
And he’s not ready to back down now.
“I’m a quarterback first,'” Lynch said Friday at the NFL Combine. “And I’ve been proving people wrong ever since I started playing. There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll continue to do that.”
His confidence may come off as somewhat stubborn, but he has the college career to back it up. The Mt. Carmel product landed at NIU because, unlike other schools, it was willing to play him at quarterback. He rewarded the Huskies with a 24-4 record, a BCS bowl berth and invaluable exposure as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
“If I wasn’t a quarterback, there’s no way you can win 24 games and only lose four,” Lynch said. “You know what I mean?”
Unfortunately, as far as scouts are concerned, wins don’t matter as much as ability, and there are fair concerns about Lynch’s throwing capability at the next level. His arm is probably better than he gets credit for, but it’s hard to envision Lynch making all the throws with the way the windows shrink in NFL secondaries.
Then there’s the question about his height, a measurable that matters, but is sometimes overblown. Lynch measured in just over 6-foot tall at the combine.
“One thing about being 6-foot is, it does play to your advantage at times because being that small, you’re sitting in the pocket and not a lot of DBs can get a read on your eyes,” he said.
Lynch also believes he’s learned how to throw to make up for not being the “6-5 pocket passer,” as he put it.
“I throw with anticipation, I throw on time, I kind of throw to spots,” he said. “Sometimes I can’t really see the receiver, so you have to buy into the system, trust the system and throw on time.”
Still, Lynch knows that if he’s going to play quarterback in the NFL, it will most likely be in a zone-read scheme. As of Friday afternoon, he had talked to about 10 teams, including the Chicago Bears.
“(Teams) show a lot of interest,” Lynch said. “A lot of teams, with the way quarterbacks are going these days, are looking for that mobile guy. Someone who can come in and run that zone-option read. I think I fit well for it.”
Not surprisingly, like a lot of quarterbacks of similar stature these days, Lynch said he likes to mimic his game after Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. But the reality is that Wilson is a rare talent at 5-foot-11. He plays on his toes and has a cannon of an arm that doesn’t sacrifice accuracy.
Lynch said he’s similar to Wilson in how he “improvises in the pocket,” but the difference is that Wilson has proved his ability to go through his reads and only scramble when it’s absolutely necessary. Lynch’s offense at NIU was designed to utilize him as a ball-carrier, and he fell back on that a lot when his first receiver wasn’t open. To be fair, he had a ton of success when scrambling, but the defenses in the NFL are a lot different than the ones in the MAC.
And that’s why many, including myself, believe a position switch will be in order at the next level. Lynch has proved he can be a playmaker running with the football — he broke five NCAA FBS quarterback rushing records — and there’s likely to be at least one team that believes they can use his talents in their offense.
But is he willing to change positions?
“What I tell teams is that they are going to make a huge mistake if they don’t put me at quarterback,” Lynch said. “But anything to get my foot in the door. If they want me to run down on kickoffs and butt heads, I’ll do that. I’m a team guy, and I’ll buy into any system.”
There has been some talk about him possibly playing safety at the next level, but Lynch wants to keep the ball in his hands.
“I’d like to stay on offense — running back, slot receiver,” he said. “I feel like I need the ball in my hands. I’m a playmaker. Some teams, there’s some questions about whether I can play safety or not. That would be great and everything, but I feel like offense would fit me perfect.”
With the way he dodged and bulldozed would-be tacklers in college, it’s hard to argue with that.
But quarterback? Well, like Lynch said, he’s going to have prove people wrong again.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.