The Buffalo Bills continue to do their due diligence when it comes to scouting quarterbacks in the 2016 draft class.
As part of that process, team representatives met with Paxton Lynch for dinner Tuesday, the night before the Memphis quarterback held his Pro Day.
Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman was in attendance at that Wednesday as Lynch made about 70 throws in tough weather conditions, with wind gusts up to 30 mph.
“You never want to get carried away with Pro Days,” draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said on the NFL Network following the workout. “But this is an outstanding Pro Day. You’ve got some wind, you’ve got some weather to deal with there, but you talk about arm strength and he showed that off.”
A 6-foot-7, 245-pounder, Lynch set Tigers single-season records for both passing yards (3,778) and touchdowns (28) in 2015, completing 296 of 443 passes (69.1 completion percentage) and throwing just four interceptions. He’s also got above-average mobility.
Lynch went 22-16 in his career as a starter, including a 10-win season in 2014 that was the Tigers’ first since the 1930s. In 2015, Memphis got off to an 8-0 start before losses to Navy, Houston and Temple. The Tigers finished with a 9-4 record after a loss to Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl. In that game, Lynch went just 16 of 37 for 106 yards and an interception, somewhat of a red flag given that it came against SEC competition.
Nevertheless, he’s projected to be the third quarterback taken in the draft, behind Jared Goff of California and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State.
“You talk about deep outs and throws down the field, he was on the money,” Jeremiah said. “Some of them were dropped and some weren’t, but you can’t worry about that. Overall, I think this was a big-time Pro Day. I thought he had a chance to show off and he took advantage of it.”
Lynch told NFL Network he wanted to challenge himself during the workout.
“I didn’t want to come out here and just throw conservative routes,” he said. “I want to compete at the highest level and I thought that was the best way to do it. You’re never competing against the quarterback you’re lined up against; you’re competing against yourself. That’s what my mindset was today.”
Will Lynch be available when the Bills are scheduled to pick at 19th overall? That’s far from a guarantee.
If Wentz and Goff go in the first seven selections, as expected, the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 8 and the Los Angeles Rams at No. 15 are the next two teams most linked to possibly taking a quarterback in the first round.
If Lynch were on the board when Buffalo’s turn comes up, it would make for an interesting decision. The Bills are set with Tyrod Taylor as their starter in 2016, but he’s heading into the final year of his contract, as is backup EJ Manuel.
Taylor had a promising first season as a starter, going 8-6 and compiling a 99.4 passer rating – tied for seventh in the NFL with league MVP Cam Newton. Taylor’s passing yardage of 3,035, however, ranked just 23rd, and the Bills finished 28th in passing offense.
They have left no stone unturned in their quest to scout the quarterbacks in the 2016 class. In addition to Lynch, the Bills have either hosted for a visit, conducted a private workout with or attended the Pro Day (or some combination of all three) of the following players: Goff, Cardale Jones of Ohio State, Kevin Hogan of Stanford, Christian Hackenberg of Penn State, Dak Prescott of Mississippi State and Connor Cook of Michigan State.
In other draft news, the team hosted Texas-El Paso defensive back Kelvin Fisher Jr. on a pre-draft visit this week, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Bills should have the best scouting report possible on him – as his father, Kelvin Fisher Sr. – is the team’s director of college scouting. The younger Fisher had 33 tackles and one interception in 11 games last season, making nine starts.