2015 NFL Scouting Combine Watch List: Safeties

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Nov 29, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans cornerback Josh Shaw (6) and Loreal Smith after the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Notre Dame 49-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Shaw, USC

Before you start, I know that Josh Shaw is a cornerback who also is a knucklehead who broke his ankles running from the cops after an alleged domestic violence situation then lied about it to make himself look like a big hero and ended up suspended for much of the year.

Shaw will be a late round pick, if he’s drafted at all, but here’s the thing: in terms of his athletic and football ability, he will be an absolute STEAL as a late round pick, and he has played both corner and safety at USC, which is as close to the pro level as it gets in the college ranks.

By no means is Shaw an infallible football player: he actually struggles as a man-to-man cornerback, and got quite simply embarrassed by Stanford’s Ty Montgomery last year. He is however a strong zone defender, and a very good athlete, and as such may be a better fit as a free safety at the next level – and a steal if he falls past the 4th round.

Reggie McKenzie isn’t scared to take a guy with some character questions but great upside in the late rounds: Jonathan Dowling and Shelby Harris come to mind, and maybe Josh Shaw is on his radar as a potential solution to the “life after C-Wood” problem. Here are some ways Shaw can show his value to McKenzie:

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Shaw should never play for Cardinals or anyone again
Shaw should never play for Cardinals or anyone again /

Raising Zona

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  • 1. Interview: Again, the interview isn’t usually a huge deal for DB’s, but it will be for Josh Shaw. Shaw will have to answer a lot of very tough questions about the incident in September, in which he initially claimed he was injured rescuing a child from a swimming pool, but later turned out to have been escaping police who were called on him in a domestic violence incident.

    While the nature of the incident is unclear, many sources suggest that Shaw was more scared than he should have been, and that he was not physically violent towards a woman. Still, in the 2015 NFL with the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy cases fresh on everyone’s mind, he’s going to have to be very candid and above-board to get the stink of DV off of him.

    Shaw will also probably need to show that he has the football IQ to at least attempt the conversion to free safety, another agenda item in the interview.

    2. W Drill: In this drill, Shaw will execute a series of backpedals and breaks over and over, showing fluidity and ability to quickly change direction and break. This drill will help him show that he can be a zone safety, able to change direction quickly with different stimuli, with fluidity.

    3. Speed Turn Drill: the speed turn drill is another drill that shows off the mechanics of safety play. In this drill, he’ll have to show a good, smooth backpedal for about ten or fifteen yards, then break fast upfield, mimicking a situation where either the quarterback has broken contain or a receiver’s route is breaking open, then break back downfield as if he is running with a deep receiver, before turning to locate and catch a deep ball. Textbook deep safety type stuff, and if he can perform well, he can help convince coaches that he can be converted back to the safety position.

    Next: Player to Watch: Kurtis Drummond