You can't fit a square peg into a round hole, but some people seem determined to try. Every NFL Draft some teams inexplicably select prospects that seemingly don't fit their current offensive or defensive schemes. Like a love struck teenager determined to date the bad boy, they all believe they can make it work, against all odds. They wholeheartedly believe they can fix them, usually leading to disastrous results. NFL decision makers have their own illogical infatuations.
QB prospects are always near the top of the list for irrational decisions. GMs can't seem to help themselves, but their struggles are understandable. QB is the hardest position to evaluate in the league, and talented signal callers are in high demand. Teams are all to willing to overlook obvious shortcomings because they have been blinded by the possibilities. Talented young men get thrown on the trash heap as a result.
Pittsburgh Steelers QB Paxton Lynch is a perfect example. Lynch is presently buried deep on the depth chart, and has never even thrown a actual pass for the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, nobody should be surprised if he earns the QB2 position this preseason, against all odds. Lynch is the superior option for the Steelers offense, a better fit than Mason Rudolph or Duck Hodges.
Paxton Lynch's measurables, skill set, and arm talent more closely resembles Ben Roethlisberger's than his competitors. His above average arm strength should be able to handle the adverse weather conditions prominent in the open air stadiums around the AFC North. He has the elite size and strength required to clearly see the field, and the movement skills necessary to extend the play.
Lynch was projected as the third best QB prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft, and a first round pick. He was the first round selection of the Denver Broncos with the 26th pick that year. Broncos GM John Elway was one of the most talented QBs in NFL history, but not the best talent evaluator for his old position. He failed to adequately recognize Lynch's shortcomings, which were due mainly to inexperience, and apparently didn't realize the patience required to overcome said inexperience.
Lynch played three collegiate seasons for the Memphis Tigers, not a Power 5 conference. He had never played in a pro style offense, or taken a snap from under center. There was bound to be growing pains. Regardless, expectations are always high for any first round draft pick, and patience is often in short supply.
Denver tried to display patience with Lynch, with QBs Trevor Siemian and Mark Sanchez ahead of him on the depth chart. He received minimal exposure his rookie season, filling in on occasion for an injured starter, with mixed results. He missed the majority of his sophomore campaign due to a shoulder injury, which severely stunted his development.
When he did see the field, he struggled adjusting to the professional game. It's extremely difficult to accurately process the plethora of information thrown at you presnap when you are still obsessing mentally about executing the five step drop or the simple fundamentals required to excel at the QB position. This also effected his accuracy and ball placement.
Lynch quickly feel out of favor prior to season three, after the Broncos acquired proven veteran Case Keenum to start at QB. The Broncos then demoted Lynch after promoting the cheaper, pro style ready Chad Kelly to backup, which led to Lynch's eventual release. He tried to catch on with the Seattle Seahawks, to no avail. Then he was signed to the Steelers practice squad last season after Ben's season ending injury, then placed on the active roster in October after Mason Rudolph's injury. He has yet to see the field.
When Kevin Colbert insists that the Steelers are comfortable with their backup QB situation, I feel certain that part of that confidence involves the presence of Paxton Lynch. He most have made an impression on the coaching staff during his short tenure with the club last season. His physical attributes are hard to ignore. If he has utilized his time thus far in the league to further develop the fundamental skills necessary to thrive at the position, he may surprise a few people.
The Steelers have proven quite successful at finding the proverbial diamond in the rough. Guys like Ramon Foster, Mike Hilton, and Alejandro Villanueva are some recent examples. Lynch is different from those examples because he was a first round draft prospect to begin with. He no longer carries the overwhelming weight of expectations. He still measures up well talent wise with this year's crop of QB prospects, only now he has received valuable seasoning.
If the last couple of years has taught us anything it is that the best QB will win the position, regardless of contract or tenure. It has to be earned, not inherited. Just ask Landry Jones and Joshua Dobbs about that.