What Will The Future Hold For Outgoing MAC QBs?
By Thomas Delves
There are two MAC quarterbacks hoping to take the next step into the NFL. One was a Heisman finalist who set countless conference records and most of Northern Illinois' passing and rushing marks; the other is a signal-caller who quietly rewrote Ball State's record book. I am talking about NIU's Jordan Lynch and Ball State's Keith Wenning. The question is, will they make the cut? Here's a look at both.
Lynch had a dream season until the MAC championship game, where Northern Illinois' loss to Bowling Green denied the Huskies the title, a shot at an undefeated season and the opportunity to play in back-to-back BCS games. For Lynch, the defeat essentially erased any chance, however slim it was, of winning the Heisman Trophy. An ensuing loss in the Poinsettia Bowl further damaged his NFL prospects.
It is hard to believe that a quarterback that threw for nearly 6,000 yards, rushed for more than 4,000, collected 98 career touchdowns and completed nearly 62 percent of his passes could go undrafted. Lynch is a better version of 2012 Heisman finalist Collin Klein (who did not get drafted), yet might find himself in a similar predicament. There is speculation he might be asked to change positions, although it is inconceivable that someone so successful would be forced to play elsewhere.
Running back would be a logical fit if he's forced to change positions. Being 6-foot, 216 pounds does slot in well with the size and weight of other running back in the league. As for quarterback, not so much.
NIU's offense also did not help Lynch's chances at playing quarterback at the next level. Lynch had many designed runs or one-read routes, which stunts a quarterback's decision making. This is unlike an NFL offense where the quarterback must read a defense and make quick decisions after looking at multiple routes. Lynch most times would look at one route and then tuck and run.
There is no doubt that Lynch is in great physical condition and could take the workload as a running back. He carried the ball more than 650 times in his college career. A team that scoops up Lynch in a late round or as an undrafted free agent might find a gem. No doubt he is talented.
Wenning had a productive season that went virtually unnoticed. He threw for more than 4,000 yards, completed 64 percent of his passes and had a college efficiency rating of more than 150. A reason he might be overlooked is the lack of national attention Ball State received. The only ranked team Wenning faced this season was NIU, and it lost, 48-27. Even after having a phenomenal senior season, Wenning will have to prove himself at the NFL Combine.
Wenning's style should fit in the NFL. He is mobile and at 6-foot-3 he fits the NFL's height requirements. And he has improved every year. He threw for 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in his freshman year, and by his senior season he tossed only seven picks with 35 TDs. He also raised his completion percentage from 54.5 to 64.1. The promise of dramatic improvement and the willingness to learn can't be calculated.
Unlike Lynch, Wenning played in a more pro-style offense and was able to spread the ball around to multiple receivers and become a better decision maker. The combination of height, decision making and mobility gives Wenning the edge over other quarterbacks such as Lynch.
Both MAC quarterbacks are talented, but I see Wenning on an NFL roster and Lynch moving on to a different dream or position. Even with player like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson breaking the mold that all quarterbacks need to be tall, Lynch does not have the accuracy or decision making to overcome his shortcomings.
Wenning has a much better chance of having his named called in early May. NFL teams like to see maturing players with tangible traits.