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Free agent profile: OLB/DE Aaron Lynch

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Would you want the situational pass rusher on the team?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Former 49er and Bear Aaron Lynch was a fifth-round draft choice by the 49ers in 2014.

He started his college career at Notre Dame and then transferred to South Florida. At 6-foot-5, 285 pounds, he is similar to Bradley Chubb in that he is a very large OLB. He missed significant portions of the 2016 and 2017 seasons (nine games in each year).

Despite the fact that he was a back-up and/or situational pass rusher for almost every year of his NFL career, he has appeared in 16 regular season games twice in six seasons (his rookie season and 2019). The one year that Lynch was a starter was the 2015 season for the 49ers. Lynch played 70 percent of the defensive snaps that season and started 13 games.

Lynch is a known commodity for Vic Fangio since he played for Fangio’s defense with the Bears in 2018 and with the 49ers in 2014.

Playing the role of situational pass rusher and backup big OLB/DE, Lynch generated 10 QB pressures in both 2018 and 2019. Combining his stats from his first two season with the 49ers, he had 12.5 sacks, 35 QB hits, 22 TFL, 7 PBU and 61 total tackles. That was on 1,308 total defensive snaps.

He was not asked to drop into coverage much in 2019 (his receiver was targetted once), but he did a handful of times in 2018. The receiver that he was covering caught three of four targets for 59 yards and a TD. Lynch did have an interception in 2018.

Playing for Fangio in 2014 as a rookie, Lynch had arguably his best season. He appeared in 49 percent of the 49ers’ defensive snaps and generated 6.0 sacks, 14 QB hits, 4 PBU, 23 combined tackles and 9 TFL in 515 snaps.

Why the Broncos should not sign Lynch

Lynch is one-trick pony.

Despite being very big for an OLB (or very quick for a DE) he has never been good enough against the run to keep a starting job in the NFL.

He had been relegated to a back-up/situational pass rusher role when he has been healthy - with the exception of one season. Lynch’s 10 total pressures in 2019 tied him for 155th in the league (with Jeremiah Attaochu).

He has health issues and he’ll probably be more expensive than Attaochu. There are cheaper situational pass rush options already under contract to the Broncos.

Why the Broncos should sign Aaron Lynch

Lynch generated 10 QB pressures on only 244 snaps in 2019. That means he generated pressure on 4.1% of his defensive snaps.

That pressure percentage of 4.1% was comparable to Bradley Chubb’s 4.2% in 2019. That’s quite good.

Von Miller had a pressure percentage of 4.4% in 2019. Comparing Lynch to every player in the league who generated 10 or more pressures you find that he ranked 42nd out of 155 qualifying defensive players. Shown below are the top 30. Von Miller was 30th. Bradley Chubb was 34th.

Rk Player Tm Age Pos QB Hurries QBKD Sacks Pressures Def Snaps Pressure %
1 Dee Ford SFO 28 de 8 1 6.5 16 226 7.08%
2 Cameron Wake TEN 37 olb 5 5 2.5 13 195 6.67%
3 Chase Winovich NWE 24 olb 9 3 5.5 19 291 6.53%
4 Joey Bosa* LAC 24 DE 25 16 11.5 54 836 6.46%
5 T.J. Watt*+ PIT 25 LB 24 19 14.5 60 935 6.42%
6 Deatrich Wise NWE 25 dl 7 5 2.0 14 229 6.11%
7 Josh Allen JAX 22 de 14 13 10.5 38 634 5.99%
8 Aaron Donald*+ LAR 28 DT 32 9 12.5 55 926 5.94%
9 Shaq Lawson BUF 25 de 12 9 6.5 28 483 5.80%
10 Nick Bosa* SFO 22 de/DL 24 12 9.0 45 777 5.79%
11 Shaquil Barrett* TAM 27 LB 14 16 19.5 51 889 5.74%
12 Za'Darius Smith GNB 27 LB 13 22 13.5 50 872 5.73%
13 Cameron Jordan* NOR 30 DE 27 6 15.5 49 876 5.59%
14 Robert Quinn DAL 29 DE 12 11 11.5 35 647 5.41%
15 Myles Garrett CLE 24 DE 10 9 10.0 29 546 5.31%
16 J.J. Watt HOU 30 DE 7 12 4.0 24 469 5.12%
17 Carl Lawson CIN 24 de 4 14 5.0 23 457 5.03%
18 Benson Mayowa OAK 28 olb 3 4 7.0 15 302 4.97%
19 Trey Flowers DET 26 DE 14 14 7.0 35 705 4.96%
20 Jadeveon Clowney SEA 26 DE 17 10 3.0 30 605 4.96%
21 Ifeadi Odenigbo MIN 25 de 4 7 7.0 18 368 4.89%
22 Marcus Davenport NOR 23 DE 12 8 6.0 26 532 4.89%
23 Khalil Mack* CHI 28 LB 30 6 8.5 45 925 4.86%
24 Brian Burns CAR 21 de/lb 8 7 7.5 23 478 4.81%
25 Markus Golden NYG 28 LB 16 14 10.0 44 917 4.80%
26 Uchenna Nwosu LAC 23 lb 10 5 2.0 17 362 4.70%
27 Vinny Curry PHI 31 de 7 6 5.0 18 393 4.58%
28 Clay Matthews LAR 33 LB 16 4 8.0 28 614 4.56%
29 Arik Armstead SFO 26 de/DL 17 6 10.0 35 776 4.51%
30 Von Miller* DEN 30 LB 18 10 8.0 37 850 4.35%

So Lynch was good at rushing the passer, but not lucky in 2019 in terms of his pressures resulting in sacks. Shelby Harris was one of the luckiest pass rushers in the league. He had 11 total pressures and 6 sacks. That non-sack pressure percentage of 45 percent was the lowest value in the league among players with 10 or more pressures.

For comparison, Leonard Williams had 23 QB pressures in 2019, but only 0.5 sacks. His non-sack pressure percentage was 98 percent. Von had a value of 78 percent and Chubb had a value of 90 percent. DeMarcus Walker was even luckier than Harris (Walker didn’t qualify for the table above since he only had 6 pressures). Walker got 4.0 sacks on 6 pressures for a value of 33 percent.

Lynch had a very good season in 2018 with Vic Fangio as his defensive coordinator. It would not surprise me if Fangio wants to sign him to see if he can replicate the success he had with him in Chicago and San Fransisco.

Final Thoughts

Because pass rushers are so valuable in the modern pass-wacky NFL, Lynch will probably get a much larger contract than his play would otherwise warrant.

I agree that you can never too many pass rushers, but I think that bringing Lynch in will be a luxury that the Broncos can’t afford. Particularly with Malik Reed, DeMarcus Walker, Bradley Chubb and Dre’Mont Jones all continuing to develop in the current defensive scheme.

I think that it would be wiser to re-sign Derek Wolfe (who has a similar body structure to Lynch) and who is an every down 3-4 defensive end.

Poll

Do you want the Broncos to sign Aaron Lynch as a free agent?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Yes
    (7 votes)
  • 41%
    Yes - but only if he takes a "I want to play for Fangio" discount
    (216 votes)
  • 57%
    No
    (301 votes)
524 votes total Vote Now