Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch has the size and athleticism teams want at the quarterback position. But his journey has proven the most valuable of all his traits.
In a quarterback-hungry league, Paxton Lynch certainly seems to have the build — and the skills — needed to make plays on Sundays.
And while some believe Lynch could benefit from a year or two learning an NFL system before being thrown into the fire, the rise of two other quarterbacks in this year's NFL Draft class — Carson Wentz and Jared Goff — means the ultra-athletic Lynch could get his shot earlier than expected.
"I'm not sure what situation I'm going to get put into," Lynch told reporters at the NFL Combine. "I'll be happy and honored to go wherever I go, and however a team needs to use me, that's how I'm going to be."
It may sound like the politically correct answer, but perhaps no other quarterback that will be taken in this week's NFL Draft knows how to expect the unexpected better than Lynch.
He wasn't highly recruited coming out of his high school, which ran a Wing T offense that didn't feature much of an ariel attack at all. To make matters worse, Lynch suffered a knee injury that forced him to miss half of his senior year, scaring off several schools in the process.
One school that wasn't afraid to take a chance on Lynch, however, was Memphis. After committing to the Tigers, he showed significant improvement each and every season after redshirting his freshman year.
Certainly never really known for its football program, Lynch led Memphis to a combined 19 wins his last two seasons, including the program's first 10-win season since the 1930s in 2015, when he passed for 3,778 yards and 28 touchdowns — both school single-season records.
Lynch was also efficient and showed he was not prone to many mistakes, completing 66.8 percent of his passes and throwing just four interceptions last year.
He decided to declare early for the NFL Draft, and said he wasn't surprised he was able to put himself in the first-round conversation after virtually "coming from nowhere."
"I'm not surprised just because I've always had self-confidence ever since I was a kid," Lynch said. "I used to watch these guys on TV and I always dreamed I'd be there. I always had in the back of my mind that as long as I worked hard and kept my faith strong, God will give me an opportunity to accomplish my dreams and he has. I'm doing everything I can to accomplish those dreams."
Other than his prolific production at the collegiate level, Lynch has a couple other factors going his way that make NFL scouts take a serious look his way: his size and his athleticism.
Lynch stands at 6-foot-7 and weighs 244 pounds, giving him the ability to scan over the top of a defense. He also showed off his skills at the NFL combine, logging an impressive 36 inches in the vertical jump and 118 inches in the broad jump.
Those intangibles helped Lynch immensely in the AAC, but he knows it's a whole different ballgame in the NFL.
"In the NFL, all those guys are just freaks. They're huge. Cam Newton's basically playing every position in the NFL," Lynch said. "Those guys are so big. But I think having the height that I have, I'm able to see the field a little bit easier than some guys that aren't as tall. But the flip side of that is guys can see you just as easy."
Lynch's journey certainly will help pave the way as a sure-first-round pick Thursday night in Chicago. From there, however, Lynch knows how important it is to be ready for anything — whether he's labeled an immediate starter, or whether his team needs him to take some time on the sidelines to get ready.
"If it's coming in and sitting behind a guy, I'm still going to compete and push him. That's how teams get better in my opinion," he said. "But if it's a team where I need to start, I'm going to formulate a plan and stick to that plan and get to work. But like I said, right now I'm just focused on helping whatever team I go to."