TAMPA – Former University of South Florida defensive end Aaron Lynch – an enviable mix of size, speed and agility – looks the part. Almost certainly, he will be selected in the NFL draft because of his eye-popping athletic ability.
But there's more to the process, as Lynch has discovered.
During USF's Pro Day on Monday morning, when 19 NFL organizations visited campus for workouts with 17 draft-hopeful Bulls players, Lynch said every team is seeking the complete picture.
Lynch, 6-foot-5, 252 pounds, was a freshman All-American at Notre Dame in 2011, but transferred to USF. He was a first-team All-American Athletic Conference pick last year, then departed early for the NFL draft following his only season with the Bulls.
“The reason why I left Notre Dame … that always comes up,'' Lynch said.
After the oft-floated explanation of homesickness, Lynch said the exclusive reason for attending USF was to be with his girlfriend from high school. Lynch said he married her, then the couple was divorced a few months back.
NFL teams also wanted to know why Lynch had dropped weight from his freshman season at Notre Dame. Lynch said he had been prescribed Adderall and he basically stopped eating. Once he ceased taking the prescription medication, Lynch said his weight returned.
Lynch said his whole life was under inspection during interviews at the NFL combine in February.
“It's a nervous environment,'' Lynch said. “There are 12 guys staring at you, one guy asking questions. It's a small room and you're in a circle, like you're in a stadium.''
Lynch said he's confident his athletic ability will play well for the scouts. After injuring his hamstring before the combine, and still nursing it until Monday, Lynch ran a 4.64 in the 40-yard dash.
“A lot of teams want me to play outside linebacker and I think (that's where) I'll be playing in the league,'' Lynch said. “I could go up to 270 like it's nothing or I could lose it in the next few days and be 250. It all depends on how my weight stays.''
Lynch is USF's most high-profile NFL draft hopeful, but Monday brought a surprise with fullback Ryan Eppes. He ran 4.56 in the 40, did a team-high 26 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press and had a vertical leap of 32-1/2 inches.
Eppes, suddenly on the radar, was chased down by a few teams after the Pro Day workout and asked to take the Wonderlic intelligence test, an indication of tangible interest.
Elsewhere, defensive end Tevin Mims and middle linebacker DeDe Lattimore said they were pleased with their performances.
Mims, who was invited to the NFL combine, measured at 6-4, 265 pounds. He, too, is uncertain about playing defensive line or linebacker.
Lattimore, meanwhile, was not invited to the combine. After running a 4.58 in the 40 and hoisting 20 reps in the bench press, Lattimore said some characteristics can't be measured. In the finale of a lost season, Lattimore had a career-high 18 tackles in a frigid atmosphere at Rutgers, displaying his immense pride.
“My strength, my knowledge, being a playmaker, finishing strong at everything I do,'' said Lattimore, pointing out his positive traits. “Toughness … relentless … will to win.''
For Mims and Lattimore, their status is a wait-and-see proposition. Mims said he likely will return to Texas for a fishing trip with his family during the draft, while waiting for his phone to ring. Lattimore will return to his native Georgia.
“Not home, I might be in the hotel room by myself,'' Lattimore said. “Watching, just quiet with my phone, just waiting on my opportunity. Sometimes, (waiting) can get to you. I try not to let it get to me. Just keep me on a narrow path and it will all work out. …I feel like my chances are very good of going to the NFL draft.''