Meet Paxton Lynch: Broncos' Star QB of the Future or the Next Tim Tebow?

Yesterday, in a post about a Peyton Manning tribute video, I wrote that it was "highly unlikely" the Broncos would choose a quarterback with their first pick in last night's NFL Draft since "all the marquee names should be gone by then."

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Paxton Lynch, widely regarded as the third-best quarterback on the board, wasn't supposed to be available toward the end of the round, where the Broncos were selecting. In fact, some prognosticators (dubious ones, but whatever) had him being selected third, directly behind two other quarterbacks, Cal's Jared Goff and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz, who did indeed go one-two.

But Lynch kept falling, and the Broncos eventually traded up to the 26th slot (from 31) to nab the former University of Memphis signal caller, who was emotional after hearing the word.

Suddenly, the squad's plan was clear. John Elway and the rest of the Broncos brain trust really do plan to start the season using butt-fumbler Mark Sanchez as the starter, with Lynch designated as the quarterback of the future — although, if Sanchez struggles (which isn't exactly beyond the realm of possibility), the future could begin sometime this season.

But is that a good thing? Leigh Steinberg, his veteran agent (he was the real-life model for Jerry Maguire), has been making the rounds talking up Lynch, but most observers don't see him as ready to play with the big boys quite yet — something he's addressed.

"I wouldn’t say I am a project," he's been quoted as arguing. "Obviously every quarterback coming out of college, we have stuff that they need to work on. I don’t think any quarterback is ready, so I guess you could say every quarterback is a project when they first get in."

True enough. But does Lynch have what it takes to develop into the next great Broncos field general? Or is he more like the last quarterback Denver drafted in the first round — Tim Tebow?

He certainly gives off some Tebow-like vibes at times — and not just because his Twitter account kicks off with a Bible verse ("There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends — John 15:13"). There's also the question of his unorthodox mechanics, which are spotlighted in the following video.

Among the comments posted on the clip: "Gotta be honest, I hate his throwing motion."

Sound familiar?

NFL scouts were initially thrilled with Lynch anyhow; back in November, four of them dubbed him the best QB prospect in the draft based on his early-season play.

But as a subsequent Bleacher Report piece pointed out, the hype train eventually came to a halt.

An excerpt:
Despite his size, his arm talent has often come into question among scouts as his football stays in the air too long at times. He also winds up on his delivery at times and doesn’t place the ball as consistently as he should. Then of course, since he didn’t come from a Power-5 conference school, he doesn’t have enough big wins on his resume.

He and his Memphis Tigers’ win over Ole’ Miss was huge and that’s why he was able to come out of nowhere. But shortly after, he lost to Navy and Saturday against Temple, he had a pedestrian 156 yards passing with no TDs in a loss. It doesn’t look like there’s going to be an it-boy in this year’s quarterback class. 
The Broncos are certainly making happy noises about Lynch, but he's the sort of talent who tilts toward extremes. Under the tutelage of Broncos Head Coach Gary Kubiak, he could either turn out to be a star or an entrant on our next edition of Denver's worst first-round draft picks.

Look below to see a Memphis highlight reel posted this past October; wonder if its title, "The Future of Denver," has been there since then. That's followed by a 7News package from last night.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts