While the quarterback conversation surrounding the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft is all about Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr and Johnny Manziel, there are several underrated passers flying under the radar. One of the top sleepers of the 2014 class is South Carolina’s Connor Shaw.
There are plenty of things to like about Shaw as a prospective NFL quarterback.
An outstanding athlete with the ability to pick up big yards on the ground, Shaw does a great job of escaping pressure and keeping plays alive with his feet. Even in the open field, he makes defenders miss and has good vision to find running lanes.
In terms of passing ability, there’s also plenty to be intrigued by. Although there’s still lots of work to be done, Shaw has tremendous accuracy and does a good job of gauging how much touch he needs on particular throws. He shows solid footwork and throws well on the run, which he’s had plenty of practice with. Shaw moves well in the pocket and even utilizes the pump fake from time to time. He’s definitely a work in progress, but the potential is there.
Don’t get me wrong, though; Shaw has some gaps in his game that will need to be addressed before he’s ready to take snaps in the NFL.
Although he’s a great athlete, Shaw too often depends on his feet to make plays. He tucks the ball when the pocket breaks down, and doesn’t consistently keep his eyes downfield as he escapes pressure. Shaw also lacks NFL arm strength, as many of his throws don’t possess the zip needed at the next level. He is working on his arm strength this offseason, though, and hopes to show off his upgraded arm during the NFL Combine.
The other considerable knock on Shaw is his history of injuries.
Just in this past season, he suffered a strained shoulder that forced him to exit a game against UCF early as well as a sprained knee against Tennessee. To make matters worse, Shaw’s willingness to run and hard-nosed playing style leave him susceptible to further injury. If he does find a role in the NFL, he’s going to need to learn how to protect his body better and avoid big hits.
Assuming he stays relatively healthy, there’s a glimmer of hope shining on Shaw’s NFL future. He’s an outstanding leader who did a great job of taking care of the football (24:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2013) and helping the Gamecocks field a serious offense in 2013.
When Day 3 of the 2014 NFL Draft rolls around, keep an eye out for the former Gamecocks quarterback. Shaw might just come off the board in the fourth round and find himself an opportunity to earn a role in the NFL.