The Oakland Raiders make up for not having a pick in the 5th or the 6th round by having 3 7th round picks this year, and we have arrived at the first of them. In this draft the Raiders have selected QB Johnny Manziel out of Texas A&M with their first round pick, LB Chris Borland from Wisconsin in the 2nd round, DT Will Sutton out of Arizona St in the 3rd, and OG David Yankey from Stanford in the 4th. With the 219th pick overall in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Raiders select...
Round 7 (pick 219): Aaron Lynch, DE South Florida
6'5, 249 lbs
2013 at South Florida University: 12 games played/10 games started, 29 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 1 Pass Defensed, 1 FR returned 44 yards for a TD
2012: Sat out season due to college transfer rules
2011 at Notre Dame: 12 games played/6 games started, 33 tackles, 7 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 PD's, 1 FF
2012: Elected to the Football Writers Association of America's, FoxSports', and Phil Steele's Freshman All-American teams
Aaron Lynch has all the physical tools needed to succeed in the NFL, but it's his questionable motivation that has him drop to the end of the 2014 draft. After his stellar freshman year at Notre Dame Lynch was on his way to being a possible 1st round selection, but that dream ended after sitting out a year to transfer to USF and then underachieving in the AAC.
It all depends on what type of effort you get from Aaron Lynch for how well he will perform in the NFL. If he puts it all together and goes full speed all the time he could be a starter, but if he still seems bored and disinterested then he will be out of the league all together in not too long. With a 7th round selection though the reward possibility outweighs the risk with picking him.
With the strong veteran leadership and Dennis Allen's coaching style the Raiders could be one of the better landing spots for Lynch. He needs discipline and leadership to get the best out of him considering his motivation concerns, but if that happens watch out. He is well worth the risk late in the draft and would add some nice depth to the Raiders slightly aged defensive ends.
It is hard to ignore what Aaron did as a freshman at Notre Dame against top notch competition, but there is no doubt that the player at USF did not perform the best. The difference in opponents had most people believing that Lynch would dominate, but the reality of his play was anything but amazing. Despite underachieving Lynch still decided to try turning pro, which is interesting because going back for another year could have really helped his value.
Another set back for Lynch is that he did not get to perform at the NFL Combine due to injury, he did get a medical exclusion. He did the bench press but it was an unimpressive 18 and he did not do any other drills. A solid performance at the Combine could have had his stock skyrocket but again it was a missed opportunity.
When Lynch is on he can be a dominate force and he has the one thing that you just can't teach with his size. His 34" arms are a major asset in reaching for the ball carrier and if he learns to get his arms up he will be able to bat balls down at the line. He needs to add some weight to his 6'5 frame and hit the weight room more. If he puts the time in to build up his strength he has the natural size and ability to put it to good use if he wants to.
Aaron will be a steal for a team if he manages to play consistently like he is capable of. The questions about his effort are legitimate, but they could easily be attributed to his decision to transfer. If motivation isn't a problem then he will be a very good player and the Raiders have enough leeway this year at Defensive End to take the chance on him. If he doesn't work out then it is just a 7th round pick not making the team, nothing new there. If he does reach his ceiling though there will be a lot of teams wishing they had given him a shot.