Aaron Lynch started out as a highly recruited defensive end who looked dominant at times during his freshman year at Notre Dame. He ended up transferring to South Florida after that season, and his draft stock crashed like the Dow Jones on October 19, 1987.
Instead of trying to psychologically assess this guy, I’m going to post his transcript. It pretty much tells you everything you need to know, with the good news being that he seems to be taking accountability for his inconsistency, weight fluctuations and other concerns that led him to drop to the fifth round (No. 150 overall).
Q: Are you a little bit disappointed that you lasted this long? Did you expect to go sooner?
AL: “I was just ready for all of it. I expected to go this far. I expected it.”
Q: And why did you expect this? A lot of people say that you’re a first-round talent.
AL: “I mean everybody’s right. I am a first-round talent being that I’ve made some mistakes in my past and I figured that’s what hurt me a little bit. I’m just so excited that the 49ers came around and got me in the fifth round.”
Q: A lot of your mistakes are documented. What do you see as your mistakes? What mistakes did you make to get to this point?
AL: “Regular mistakes a person at my age makes. Just most mistakes that most people my age make. They weren’t mistakes like robbing, things like that. But, they’re mistakes that weren’t supposed to happen associated with football and I chose to do those things so those things hurt me in the end. But, I’m just happy that my opportunity is finally—I’ve been waiting my whole life to be drafted. This is my dream and I don’t know how to express how I’m feeling right now, it’s just amazing. First round, seventh round, it doesn’t matter. They picked me up in the fifth and I’m just so excited that somebody took the time out of their time to pick me and take a chance with me.”
Q: Is your motivation, is your work ethic and ability to play hard, is it up to the NFL level?
AL: “Yes, sir. I know I have a lot of things to work on when I get there. That’s why they have these great coaches that are helping so many of these players become great football players and athletes. And I’m just ready to see what they’re going to do with me.”
Q: What was your interaction like with the 49ers?
AL: “When I visited?”
AL: “It was great. I spoke with the GM [general manager Trent Baalke] probably three or four times when I was up there and I had great, great time speaking with the defensive line [defensive line coach Jim Tomsula] and the D coordinator [defensive coordinator Vic Fangio], [linebackers] coach [Jim] Leavitt. My interaction with all of them was just amazing. I’m pretty sure that’s why they came around and picked me up because we clicked.”
Q: Did you have much of a history with coach Leavitt?
AL: “Yes, sir.”
Q: How far back?
AL: “To high school.”
Q: What current NFL player would you pattern yourself after, would you say?
AL: “I don’t really try to compare myself to other people. I watch their games and I try to learn from other people, but I don’t really try to compare myself. I always grew up watching [Bears DE] Julius Peppers and I grew up watching [former DE] Deacon Jones. So, I’d say, if anybody I’d be like Deacon Jones because I like to be physical, the way I play physically in the football game.”
Q: How did you know about Deacon Jones? You’re not old enough to see him play, are you?
AL: “No, I never got to watch him play live. Like you said, I’m too young. But, I’ve studied him online, Google, YouTube, all those highlights he has put up with his head slaps and all these great pass rushes he’s done in his past. That was just a guy that in high school I just watched a lot of. I learned my first move from him and I can try to base myself playing the way that he played.”
Q: Did you ever get a chance to meet him before he passed away?
AL: “No sir.”
Q: Did you drop weight after you left Notre Dame to go to South Florida?
AL: “I didn’t drop weight. I lost weight. I wasn’t trying to drop weight, but I did lose weight.”
Q: What weight would you say you’re best at, you’re most comfortable at?
AL: “It’s not really what I’m the best at because I have the same drive at any weight. But, I feel really comfortable when I’m around 260, in that area. I feel really comfortable. I’m a lot stronger and I still can keep my speed.”
Q: What are you right now?
AL: “I’m around 255.”
Q: So, what can the 49ers expect when you come in here and start working?
AL: “Somebody with just a motor and a motive to just do whatever he can for the team. I’m coming in to play. I’m coming in to do what I can to help this team win a championship, go back to it. We have the whole team, the whole defense, the whole offense, everybody, there’s talent everywhere and I’m just another guy coming in to work hard and I’m versatile, so I can do whatever they want me to do. I can play special teams. I can play offense. I can play defense. Just, whatever the coaches want me to do I’m going to come in and do and I’m going to do it to my full potential and whatever I can give to them.”
Q: Are you familiar with 49ers LB Aldon Smith’s game?
AL: “Yes sir.”
Q: How similar are you stylistically to him?
AL: “I guess I would say physically. We matchup with the same height, around the same weight. He’s an amazing, amazing football player. I’ve watched his game. I’ve watched film on him. I’ve watched the way he plays. He’s amazingly athletic. He’s got a great motor too. And, like I said, physically we stand about the same height, about the same weight. He’s a little bit more developed than me because he’s been in the league. But, I mean, he’s a phenomenal football player, phenomenal football player. And I would love to learn from him and play with him.”
Q: You say you didn’t drop weight, but you lost weight. What caused you to lose that weight?
AL: “I was on Adderall. I was prescribed Adderall. That’s all. And it just quenched my eating habit, my appetite. I just wasn’t eating much so I dropped weight.”
Q: Are you still on Adderall?
AL: “No sir.”
Q: That was during the year that you sat out?
AL: “Yes sir.”
Q: How much weight did you drop? What was the lightest you were?
AL: “I would have to say the lightest probably 240, 241.”
Q: Are you on line to graduate?
AL: “I haven’t graduated because I came out early, but yeah I’m on track.”
All the reports say Lynch looked lackadaisical in his season at South Florida … but he had 5.0 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in 2013, compared to 5.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss in 2011 with the Fighting Irish. However, the competition isn’t quite the same in the American Athletic Conference as what Notre Dame faces.
There’s a lot of vague stuff on the internet about “off the field concerns,” and Lynch alluded to some of that in his press conference, but there are no reports that I can find of any arrests or suspensions. He sounds like a guy who likes to study film and got along really well with the 49ers’ coaches, so I don’t see this as the same kind of gamble they’ve been making on the redshirt guys.
Jim Harbaugh said on NFL Network that he had an advantage when scouting Lynch due to his relation ship with South Florida head coach Willie Taggert.
“Coach Taggart, who’s like a brother to me, vouched for Aaron,” Harbaugh said. “This is a young man who can rush the passer”
The one red flag I see is the part where he says he was prescribed Adderall, and now he’s not taking it. Did the ailment that led to the prescription vanish, or was he on Adderall for the wrong reasons? We’ll see.