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Former first-round pick Paxton Lynch falls down Denver’s depth chart, could his NFL future be in doubt?

Last week, former first-round quarterback Paxton Lynch fell victim to one such performance, as the former Memphis star was demoted to third-string quarterback following his disappointing display in his team’s preseason opener.
In 13 games for the Tigers, his adjusted completion percentage (the PFF metric that gives a precise measure of accuracy) of 79.2 percent was good for third among signal-callers with 265-plus attempts, while his 114.1 passer rating when kept clean and his passer rating of 104.4 on throws under pressure ranked 11th and third among quarterbacks in the nation, respectively.
However, the most enticing aspect of Lynch’s college game was his ability to throw the deep ball with impressive touch and accuracy, and he displayed this with several remarkable deep to intermediate throws throughout the year.
In his two regular seasons with Denver, Lynch has completed 67-of-97 pass attempts from a clean pocket and has thrown as many interceptions as he has touchdowns (three).
In his five regular-season appearances for Denver, he managed to throw an accurate pass on just 67.5 percent of his pass attempts, which is not only below the league average, it puts him 46th among the 48 quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts over the past two years.
Last season, turnover-worthy plays resulted in a completion percentage of 1.9 percent, a passer rating of just 1.2, and furthermore, 48.2 percent of all turnover-worthy throws resulted in interceptions.
On the night, Kelly was also clinical when he was kept free from pressure, completing 11-of-16 pass attempts for one of his touchdowns and 146 of his passing yards, all good for a passer rating of 118.2, the best mark among quarterbacks with at least 15 attempts from a clean pocket.
Kelly followed up his strong Week 1 performance with another promising outing against the Chicago Bears this past week, where he completed 7-of-9 passes for 90 yards, one touchdown and he ended the contest with an offensive grade of 73.9 – the 12th-best mark of the week.
Once again, he shined from a clean pocket as his near-perfect 153.1 passer rating dwarfed that of Paxton Lynch (51.5), who managed to complete just three of his seven attempts from a clean pocket, for only 23 yards.
Given Lynch’s recent struggles, Kelly now has the chance to maintain his leap of the former first-round pick, which could very well lead to the end of Paxton Lynch in Denver.

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Aug 18, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) is sacked by Chicago Bears defensive tackle John Jenkins (92) in the fourth quarter at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

At some point in the next few weeks, you’ll no doubt hear the same three words that we’ve all become accustomed to hearing at this time of year: “Preseason doesn’t matter!”

This statement is harsh to hear at times because it’s simply just not true. It’s true that the results do not matter, there are no regular season byes to be awarded from preseason wins, nor is there a trophy to hand to the team with the best record. The results may be meaningless, but in reality, the games themselves are incredibly important. For some players, dreams can be achieved, and starting jobs can be won off the back of strong preseason outings.

However, unfortunately for some, the opposite is also true, and jobs that were once seemingly secure can be also be lost off the back of disappointing preseason performances.

Last week, former first-round quarterback Paxton Lynch fell victim to one such performance, as the former Memphis star was demoted to third-string quarterback following his disappointing display in his team’s preseason opener.

When asked about Lynch’s demotion to the third team, Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said “he’s obviously disappointed, but he understands that it’s a performance business. He has great potential, physical potential, but it’s got to equal performance eventually. He understands that. It’s a performance league. Everything we do, it’s graded, and it’s counted,” per Nicki Jhabvala on the Athletic Denver.

The Broncos traded up to grab Lynch with the 26th overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, after a mightily impressive final year at the University of Memphis, where he ended his last campaign with an overall grade of 89.7, the 12th-best mark in the nation.

Throughout his final campaign, Lynch displayed the kind of potential that led many scouts to consider him a first-round talent, and he finished among the nation’s top quarterbacks in three critical facets of a quarterback’s game. In 13 games for the Tigers, his adjusted completion percentage (the PFF metric that gives a precise measure of accuracy) of 79.2 percent was good for third among signal-callers with 265-plus attempts, while his 114.1 passer rating when kept clean and his passer rating of 104.4 on throws under pressure ranked 11th and third among quarterbacks in the nation, respectively.

However, the most enticing aspect of Lynch’s college game was his ability to throw the deep ball with impressive touch and accuracy, and he displayed this with several remarkable deep to intermediate throws throughout the year. At the close of his junior season, Lynch had completed 27 of his 56 deep passing attempts for 960 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception, which lead to the nation’s fifth-highest passer rating on passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air.

Unfortunately for Lynch, he’s not yet managed to translate his college game to the NFL level, and for the most part, he’s struggled in his time as a Denver Bronco. Since arriving in Denver before the 2016 season, he’s come in second in every training camp battle, and that has limited him to just 275 offensive snaps and only 128 passes across five regular season performances.

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