Friday, May 16, 2014
Lynch's transition to RB promising
By Michael C. Wright ESPN.com
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Former Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch picked up the phone last week during the seventh round of the NFL draft with Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman on the other end.
The Bears weren’t sure what direction they’d take with their seventh-round pick, but Trestman made sure to let Lynch know that regardless of how the draft panned out, he wanted the quarterback to be a Chicago Bear. Less than a week later, Lynch -- a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2013 as a quarterback -- lined up in the backfield as an undrafted rookie on Day 1 of Chicago's three-day rookie minicamp inside the Walter Payton Center. There, he caught a pass out in the flat, which represented quite the change for a man who threw all the passes (and well at that) at Northern Illinois.
Jordan Lynch, a former QB -- yes, QB -- at Northern Illinois, takes a handoff from Jerrod Johnson during Friday's rookie minicamp in Lake Forest, Illinois.
“It wasn't tough at all,” Lynch said of his decision to switch from quarterback to running back. “I’m a football player. I love football, and I’ll do whatever it takes to stay in the NFL. I guess the toughest thing is some footwork drills playing running back and just trying to pick up on little things with special teams and running back."
Interestingly, Lynch didn’t appear to be out of place in his new position, according to Trestman.
“Jordan’s a real football player, there’s no doubt about it,” Trestman said. “In Day 1, he certainly didn’t look out of place. I know he’s hungry for information. He wants to know what we’re going to do tomorrow yesterday, and he wants to know what we’re going to do three days from now today. So he’s hungry to learn. He’s extremely motivated. He’s very smart. It’s just the first day, but he didn’t seem awkward in any way running and catching the football in space.”
At Northern Illinois, Lynch piled up 6,209 yards passing for 51 yard touchdowns and 14 interceptions while completing 61.8 percent of his throws in leading the Huskies to a 24-4 record.
Despite that production, the Bears decided that running back represented the best fit for Lynch in his attempt to earn a roster spot in the NFL. The Green Bay Packers also expressed interest in Lynch, he said.
Considering Lynch rushed for 4,343 yards and 48 touchdowns at NIU, it’s easy to see his appeal as a potential running back for the Bears. Lynch sees it, too, which is why he’s embracing the change instead of resisting it the way so many other quarterbacks in the past have done when asked to switch from quarterback to a new position in the NFL.
“Quarterback is all mental in practice. Now I've got to turn on the physical side in practice and do special teams and always on the go. You know, staying in shape is going to be key,” Lynch said. “I spent a lot of time in the film room in the past years [as a quarterback] and feel like that work ethic is going to carry over to running back; always watching film and trying to pick up the little things. I felt like playing running back and playing special teams could be my calling in the NFL.”
Trestman does, too, and believes Lynch’s performance on Day 1 of minicamp helped the former quarterback to take a step in a positive direction.
“We try to take every guy like Jordan and put him in a place where he can succeed and make the team,” Trestman said. “His best opportunity is not at the quarterback position, although I thought he had a very sufficient workout when he came in. We’re trying to find a place for him, and give him every opportunity to fulfill the goal that he has, which is to play in the National Football League. This is a starting point for him. We’ve got a long way to go, but it was a good start.”