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NIU star out to prove he can be successful under center in NFL

QB still in the cards for Lynch

NIU star Jordan Lynch is out to prove to scouts that he can play quarterback in the NFL.
NIU star Jordan Lynch is out to prove to scouts that he can play quarterback in the NFL.

Jordan Lynch knows doubters still exist.

In the scouting community, some remain skeptical the former Northern Illinois star, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting, can play quarterback in the NFL.

Lynch’s brief appearance last month in the East-West Shrine Game didn’t do anything to change opinions. He was 2-for-7, and his final two passes were intercepted. What wasn’t broadcast was the work Lynch put in during the week leading up to the game.

“The game did not end up the way I wanted it to, but overall in practice, I was really thrilled with how I did,” Lynch said. “There were still a lot of questions about whether I should be a quarterback or running back or whatever going into the East-West, and the first 2 days of practice, all of those questions were kind of eliminated.

“[Scouts there] believed I could be a quarterback with what I showed them, and there are a lot of teams interested in me as a quarterback.”

The goal now is to be even sharper at the scouting combine next week in Indianapolis. Lynch has been training at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis since his college career wrapped up, working with quarterback instructor Donovan Dooley.

The challenge Lynch faces is one many college passers face: He hasn’t played under center. So the drills focus on his footwork in three-, five-, and seven-step drops, reading the field, and delivering the ball.

“I really haven’t changed anything with my throwing motion,” Lynch said. “It’s really getting all the timing down.”

Lynch plans to participate in all the drills at the combine, and he also will work out at NIU’s pro day March 7 in DeKalb. After that, he will fly to Orlando, Fla., to participate in Jon Gruden’s quarterback camp, an invitation he just received.

“I am a huge fan of Jon Gruden, and it’s just going to be awesome,” Lynch said. “Going over X’s and O’s and learning from him, it is going to be a great experience.”

It’s easy to picture Gruden gushing over Lynch’s physical ability and toughness, but he ultimately will have to perform throwing the ball to be drafted as a quarterback. One veteran scout told the Tribune he likes Lynch as a football player, but figures he’ll have to change positions, and might get a brief opportunity at quarterback before a switch is initiated.

But to what? Running back? H-back? Tight end? Wide receiver? Safety?

“About half of the teams came up to me [at the East-West game] talking about a different position or special teams,” Lynch said. “Whatever gets my foot in the door, I am willing to do. I believe I am a quarterback first, and I will prove everyone wrong and I will keep doing that. If it depends on getting a check or not getting a check, I will do whatever it takes to get that check.

“A position change really isn’t in the back of my head, because I know quarterback is going to work out. If it came down to where I had to make a switch, I would stay on offense. I feel like I am a playmaker with the ball in my hands.”

Next week, Lynch wants to prove he is a quarterback with the ball in his hands.

By the numbers

Lynch as starter

2012: 237-for-394 passing (60.2 percent), 3,138 yards, 25 TDs, 6 INTs, 144.9 QB rating; 294 rushes, 1,815 yards, 19 TDs

2013: 253-for-404 passing (62.6 percent), 2,892 yards, 24 TDs, 8 INTs, 138.4 QB rating; 292 rushes, 1,920 yards, 23 TDs

FYI: Second all-time in FBS history in rushing yards by QB, behind Pat White. … Only 5th QB in FBS history with 4,000 rushing yards & 5,000 passing yards. … Finished 3rd in Heisman voting in 2013, and 7th in 2012. … Guided Huskies to 24-4 record in 2 years, including 2012 MAC title. … First-team All-American in 2013, & 2-time MAC Offensive Player of the Year. … Holds NCAA records for QB rushing yards in a game & a season.

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