It bears asking: Excluding injury, has a possible top-10 draft pick at quarterback ever thrown for 110 yards or less in his final collegiate game?
Whatever the case, the Auburn defense deserves major props for their shut-down performance against Lynch (106 yards passing, zero TDs, one INT), the top QB prospect on various draft sites.
Prior to the Birmingham Bowl debacle, Lynch (6-foot-7, 245 pounds, strong arm, bears a physical likeness to Brock Osweiler) was getting buzz as a potential No. 1 overall pick come April. But after barely cracking the 100-yard mark against Auburn, it would be difficult for a downtrodden NFL franchise to justify that move — which would involve trading up to the top spot, since Tennessee (led by QB Marcus Mariota) owns the selection.
Heck, even the quarterback-cursed Cleveland Browns would be raked through the coals at No. 2, if they grabbed Lynch (3,776 yards passing, 28 TDs) in the top five. Fair or not, NFL general managers should be fearful of Lynch’s wretched outing against Auburn; and fair or not, the sour ending might outweigh Lynch’s dissection of Ole Miss on Oct. 17, upon passing for 384 yards and three TDs in the Tigers’ major upset of the Rebels.
Back to Auburn: The Tigers finished strong on a defensive note, limiting opposing quarterbacks to skim passing averages of 175 yards and 0.6 touchdowns in their final five games. It’s a short sample size, granted; but it’s also a stealth finishing kick for the year ahead … which begins with a high-profile home date against Clemson quarterback and Heisman hopeful Deshaun Watson (Sept. 3).
Jay Clemons, the 2015 national winner for “Sports Blog Of The Year” (Cynopsis Media), has previously written for SI.com, The National Football Post, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports