Injury history clouds Paxton Lynch’s rising stock at combine

Could Paxton Lynch’s NFL draft fate come down to a shoulder injury he suffered nearly two years ago? The combine’s intense medical evaluations threw some water on the ascent of one of the top QB prospects.
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INDIANAPOLIS — Most combine quarterbacks rolled through for their individual press conferences on Wednesday or Thursday. Memphis’s Paxton Lynch arrived around 4 p.m. ET on Friday.

It turns out the delay was related to an old AC injury in his throwing shoulder, which he suffered in a game against Cincinnati during the 2014 season.

“When I hurt my AC joint back in my redshirt sophomore year against Cincinnati, I didn’t realize that—I think they said—a small fracture in my clavicle. So that popped up on the X-ray,” Lynch said. “It was healed, but there was just some piece of the bone just floating around in there. It spooked a team or two I think, that’s why they requested the MRIs and all that.

“But I mean, I didn’t miss a game or a practice or a single throw because of it.”

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Lynch threw for 412 yards and two touchdowns in that Cincinnati game, then helped Memphis beat South Florida on 305 yards passing and two touchdowns the following week. In other words, there has been no evidence that the bone fragment has caused him any problems since it emerged.

However, the combine is the best opportunity NFL teams have to put players through the medical ringer. Given Lynch’s status as a potential early-Round 1 selection, it’s no surprise that teams requested more information. Lynch did not specifically name the teams “spooked” by the X-ray results.

Lynch added that he had “an issue with my left knee and my right knee,” as well, which the doctors here probed extensively. The 6' 7" quarterback missed most of his senior high school season due to a deep knee bruise.

“None of those injuries bother me today,” Lynch said. “I’m 100% so I was more than willing to do whatever they needed me to do.”

The debate over this draft’s top QB continues, so any variable like those medical questions could tip the scales. Saturday’s on-field workout probably will do more to sort things out, though.

Lynch admittedly is a work in progress—he said he didn’t really throw in high school because he played in a wing-T scheme, and that his footwork is an area that needs improvement. The learning curve was steep when he arrived at Memphis, and it could be again next season.

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“I’ve always relied on my athletic ability with my size and arm strength in college,” Lynch said. “I know it’ll be different when I get to the NFL. Those guys are a lot faster, and those windows are a lot smaller and the defenses do a lot more tricky stuff than they do in college. It’s obviously going to take some time to adjust, but I’m ready and I’m excited for it.”

As for the biggest question QB-needy teams may be asking—is a prospect ready to start from Day One?—Lynch took a wait-and-see approach.

“I’m not sure what situation I’m going to get put into,” he said. “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. I’ve always been a team guy. Whatever I need to do to help a team, that’s what I’m going to do.

“If it’s coming in and sitting behind a guy, I’m going to compete and push him. That’s how teams get better in my opinion. 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.”

An interesting answer, if nothing else, and one indicating at least a willingness to sit and learn for a bit. He doesn’t believe his past injuries would be the reason behind that decision, but they became a part of the picture here.