COLUMBIA, S.C.—It's almost a given that some NFL team is going to take a chance on South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw.
Chances are even better they won't regret it.
Undersized, underrated and considered more of a runner than a passer, pro scouts will likely take a second look at some of those labels after the senior season Shaw recently finished for the 11-2 Gamecocks.
Shaw completed 180 of 284 passes (63.4 percent) for 2,447 yards, 24 touchdowns and only one interception. He also rushed 154 times for 558 yards and six touchdowns.
Sure plenty of other quarterbacks put up gaudier numbers, but most were operating out of spread offenses—which can often distort a quarterback's true abilities.
To truly appreciate Shaw as a quarterback, it's necessary to look beyond the numbers and take into account his uncanny ability to scramble and find an open receiver, or to tuck it in, run and seemingly always make it to the first-down marker.
He moved the chains, moved the offense and found a way to finish with the best record (27-5) of any quarterback in school history.
"Connor Shaw is the most underrated quarterback that ever played the game of college football," former coach and current ESPN college analyst Lou Holtz said in a recent interview with Gene Sapakoff of the Charleston Post and Courier.
Holtz has never been shy about throwing out superlatives, but Shaw's performance this season was good enough to earn him an invitation to next month's NFL combine in Indianapolis.
While there, he'll be poked, prodded and measured in everything measurable and even some things that are not.
It's highly unlikely that Shaw will do anything but help himself at the combine, especially when it comes to the intangibles.
Shaw is a leader, a winner and possesses a keen football mind. Those qualities will no doubt shine through during the interview process.
Pro scouts are going to like what they see from Shaw. They're going to love what they hear.
At present, his draft stock is not particularly high. CBSsports.com rates him as the 12th-best quarterback in the draft, the 229th best player overall and probably a sixth to seventh-round selection.
His stock could easily climb a bit between now and draft day.
He got off to a good start in the NFL Collegiate Bowl, where he completed five of six passes for 70 yards with one interception.
At present, he's working out in Duluth, GA, in preparation for the combine. Shaw told GoGamecocks that his daily routine consists of two hours of work with a quarterback coach, two hours of weight work and two hours of speed and conditioning drills.
In Shaw's favor is the recent trend toward running quarterbacks like Seattle's Russell Wilson, who at 5'11", is an inch shorter than Shaw.
It has been well documented over time that the drafting of NFL quarterbacks is an inexact science. For every Peyton Manning, there's more than one Ryan Leaf.
By contrast, Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick and the seventh quarterback chosen in the 2000 NFL draft. It would not be premature for the NFL Hall of Fame to go ahead and commission his bust.
Shaw may not get drafted, but he'll almost certainly sign as a free agent with some team if only regarded as a "camp arm."
It doesn't really matter. All Shaw needs is a chance.
He'll likely make the most of it.
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