The Josh Shaw saga appears to be nearing an end in Los Angeles. While the specifics of why he jumped off a balcony are still unclear, the USC Trojans cornerback has admitted to fabricating the story about saving his nephew from a pool. Based on recent history, Shaw lost a chance to be selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Before this incident occurred, I had Shaw ranked as the 16th best player and third best corner in the draft class, behind Ifo Ekpre-Olomu of Oregon and P.J. Williams of Florida State. While his suspension and recovery from two high ankle sprains will cost Shaw playing time, his ranking, which is based on what a player does on the field, will not change dramatically. What does change is his draft stock. My preseason mock draft saw Shaw being selected 18th overall by the Atlanta Falcons. A mock draft now would place Shaw in Round 2.
Shaw’s story has drawn comparisons to the incident involving Manti Te’o. Both involved college football players with first-round talent from high-profile schools caught in a lie. While the Te’o story broke after his senior season, we can use that experience to predict what the next nine months will look like for Shaw.
When Shaw does step onto the field for USC, his every move will be critiqued. Every play, especially the poor plays by the USC defense, will be over-analyzed. Any reason to place the blame on Shaw for the team’s miscues will be used, even if it’s not his fault. After playing a couple of games, draft gurus will slowly begin to slide Shaw down their boards into the late stages of the first round in a similar fashion to how Te’o dropped after Notre Dame games were studied following the season.
By the time the combine began, Te’o was still regarded by many as a late first-round pick. His numbers at the combine and his pro day were very similar to C.J. Mosley, the top inside linebacker of the 2014 class who was selected 17th overall. So how did Te’o end up in the second round? The difference was teams found every reason not to select Te’o higher. Possibly to avoid the drama, every team in the first round passed on him.
Shaw is likely to experience the same fate. Unless he blows away teams at the combine, he will end up in the second round. Even one poor drill would give teams an excuse not to take Shaw in Round 1. As we have seen with Te’o, Johnny Manziel and Michael Sam, the majority of NFL teams avoid rookies who move the media attention from the team to the player.
Related: Preseason 2015 NFL Mock Draft