Now that the San Francisco 49ers have added South Florida defensive end Aaron Lynch, I thought we'd go back to our friends at Voodoo Five to get some thoughts on Lynch. We spoke to Ryan about B.J. Daniels last year. Maybe this year the 49ers can keep their South Florida product a little longer. Speaking of Voodoo Five, they also had some quick thoughts on the departure of the strength coach who criticized the 49ers.
Aaron Lynch is a remarkable talent who was entirely unremarkable in his one season at USF. To understand just how far his stock fell this season, you have to go back to his freshman year at Notre Dame, when he was one of the best defensive players on a unit that basically led the Irish to the national championship game the next season. Had he been eligible to declare for the draft after that season, he's a no-doubt first round pick. Probably top ten.
So obviously you figure something was up when he left Notre Dame to transfer to USF the next season. We were thrilled, obviously--a talent like Lynch doesn't come around every day-- but freshman All-Americans don't just transfer because they feel like it. It turned out to be a couple reasons: first off, Lynch's then-girlfriend lived in the area, but predominantly it seemed that he was a pretty awful teammate in South Bend and managed to tick off a lot of coaches and players.
I figured Lynch would be a one-year rental before he took off for the NFL, and he was. Still, I thought he'd be a little more productive. The defensive line was one of USF's few strengths last season, but Lynch was probably the Bulls' third best defensive end, behind a couple of guys that got signed as undrafted free agents. He had a couple impressive games-- the UConn game stands out in my memory, if you'd like to look for highlights-- but was very quiet most of the season despite starting nearly every game. I must have heard announcers say "We haven't called Aaron Lynch's name much tonight" at least six times last season.
I'm being a bit of a downer here, but I really do like the pick. Lynch probably has the most talent of any player you can find in the fifth round. His physical tools are off the charts. If he gets his head in the game, he could be an absolute nightmare rushing off the edge. The thought of him as a 3-4 pass-rushing linebacker... yikes. You could wind up getting first-round value from this pick.
Will you? I have no idea. It all depends on Lynch. From a maturity standpoint, I haven't heard anything negative out of USF besides a shady tweet from strength coach Hans Straub when he got drafted that was deleted immediately after. I didn't catch it, but it appeared to be something derogatory, and when your strength coach is saying negative things about you on your draft day.... you get the point. If he puts in the work, he could be a Pro Bowler. I didn't see that at USF, but perhaps he'll step up the effort in the NFL. I'll be rooting for him.