In the 2011 college football season, Aaron Lynch was one of the most dominant freshman defensive linemen in college football. After his first year, many thought that, by this year, he would challenge Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina for the honor of being the first defensive lineman picked in the 2014 Draft. As a freshman at Notre Dame, Lynch's size was about 6’6 – 262. He played as a five-technique defensive end in Notre Dame’s 3-4 scheme. He flashed dominating ability and played with a physicality not seen in many 18 year-old freshman. He showed natural pass rush ability to go along with very good overall athleticism. Being tall with long arms, it was thought that by this season he would be a 285-290 pound defensive end and totally dominate games.
After his freshman season, things changed. He was not happy at Notre Dame and there were personal issues that kept his mind more focused on Florida than South Bend. He ended up transferring to South Florida after the spring semester of his freshman year. At first, it was thought that he was doing the right thing by transferring, because he was taking care of the personal issues that he faced. While that is partially true, it is also true that he alienated many of his teammates at Notre Dame, was not a “team guy”, and was very selfish. People at Notre Dame will tell you that he was a “me first” type of person and had a very high opinion of himself.
After the transfer, Lynch had to sit out the 2012 season in accordance with NCAA rules. He worked on the scout team, and the USF people were excited about the talent Lynch brought to the table. Fast forward to today, and the player we saw in 2011 was not the player we saw in 2013.
South Florida plays a 4-3, and Lynch lined up as a defensive end. The 6’6 – 260 pound freshman was now a 6’6 – 244 pound redshirt sophomore. His play on the field was nowhere near what we saw two years ago. In 2011, Lynch was a consistently high effort player. This year, I saw very mediocre effort. Lynch doesn't play with the strength and power I saw two years ago. His athleticism was there, the power and effort was not. While Lynch shows he can get off the ball, he also shows a tendency to play tall and can be slow to shed. There are too many plays where he is a non-factor. As a pass rusher, if he doesn’t beat his opponent with his first move, he basically stops. Snap-to-whistle effort is not there. While he can put together a counter move, you don’t see it very often. As a freshman, Lynch showed a fairly good bull rush. That part of his game is just about gone. His lack of pursuit effort really bothers me. He seldom chases the ball.
Overall, Lynch is a shell of the player he was two years ago. I think the main reason for that is his selfish attitude and lack of good football character. This is a highly talented player who has the tools to play in the NFL, but does he have the right mind set? Lynch could get drafted, especially if you go back and look at his 2011 tape. Still, he is a big question mark who could turn into a wasted pick. I have no doubt that he will look very good at workouts for scouts. That isn’t the concern. The concern is from the neck up.
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