Shayne Skov: The Undrafted Free Agent Who Will Prove Everyone Wrong

BJ KisselContributor IMay 12, 2014

Getty Images

After seven rounds and 256 names, reality set in that former Stanford standout linebacker Shayne Skov wouldn't be drafted. 

Questions about his speed, athleticism and overall health had to be the major question marks surrounding the storied Cardinal, who had only seen his draft stock fall further and further over the past two years. 

Coming off a major knee injury back in 2011, Skov struggled to regain that same athleticism, which, paired with his elite recognition and natural instincts, made him a top draft prospect before his injury. 

After the draft, there were reports that had Skov headed to the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent, but he quickly cleared that up by announcing he was heading to the other organization in the Bay Are

The San Francisco 49ers currently have two of the best inside linebackers in the NFL in Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, which begs the question as to why Skov would choose to go to a situation in which he can't reasonably expect to step onto the field as a starter anytime soon. 

Basically, Skov had better options to play right away at linebacker, namely with the Oakland Raiders.

But his decision to go to the 49ers might show us a little more about the fiery linebacker, who seems determined to make his mark on the league. 

Nov 7, 2013; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal linebacker Shayne Skov (11) extends for a tackle against Oregon Ducks running back De'Anthony Thomas (6) with safety Jordan Richards (8) forcing a fumble and recovering the ball during the second quarter a

By signing with San Francisco, Skov showed us that he's willing to sit, listen and learn from two of the game's best and not necessarily look for the quickest route to getting onto the field, but the best one  in terms of furthering his game in the long run.

That right there is a sign of maturity, and one that shouldn't be taken lightly.

It'll take much more than just a decision to try to learn from the best in order for Skov to get where he wants to go, but three years from now when he is making an impact in the NFL, people will look back at this decision as the first step in a series of good decisions that helped him make that impact. 


The Unteachable Traits

At 6'2" and 245 pounds, Skov has the physical attributes to play linebacker in the NFL. He "looks" the part. 

But what separates him from the hundreds of other college linebackers with similar physical traits and measurements?

It's all about his instincts and recognition. 

Skov doesn't have great athletic fluidity. In fact, he's a player who needs to stay within the box in order to be most effective. 

But as demonstrated in this play below, Skov has the instincts to play the position at a high level.

Draft Breakdown

As you can see in this picture, the left guard pulled (red square), and Skov initially took a step with his left foot as if to say he was going to fill the vacated area to his left that was unoccupied. 

He saw the guard pulling around, and he knew where he was supposed to be and what gap he was supposed to fill. 

He didn't run around the block or take the path of least resistance. Instead, he locked out his arms and didn't allow the offensive lineman to get into his body, enabling him to shed the block and make the play. 

That initial instinct to stay in the box and not try to run around blocks and through the gap by the right tackle is what made this play.

It's a split-second decision, and Skov is generally right when put in those situations. 

He might not have the best 40 time, or even close to it, but Skov is fast enough and has the instincts to develop into a solid linebacker at the next level. 


How Long Will It Take?

Skov isn't the first highly thought-of college football player who will have an uphill battle to show the NFL what he's about. 

He'll travel a road many have gone down before, and a roster spot won't be handed to him. He's going to have to earn the benefit of the doubt from everyone around him.

In the situation he'll find himself in with the 49ers, the good news is that everything Skov needs to learn and develop in order to be the player he wants to be will be working beside him every day.

There's a comfort in physically getting to see what you want to aspire to each day. Skov has the opportunity to pick the brains and see the work habits of those at the top of the ladder at his position and in this profession.

Obviously, none of this is to say the path won't be extremely difficult for Skov.

But all of the tools to help him develop are at his doorstep, and he chose to live at the house of those who've helped redefine the tools needed to build the neighborhood. 

It's a good bet that he'll take advantage of this opportunity and prove everyone wrong who bet against him.