Unselfishly, Penn State linebacker Tim Shaw took one for his team in 2006 when he was asked to move to defensive end for his final season with the Nittany Lions to help improve their pass rush.
For Penn State, it was a brilliant move as Shaw went on to register single-season career-highs with 7 sacks, 7 passes defended, and 8 tackles for a loss. Quite simply, he was a major pest in the opponent's backfield.
But for Shaw, the move could have had a devastating impact on his dream of playing linebacker in the NFL. Without scouts getting an opportunity to watch how he performed at the position, he could have easily slipped off draft boards and into the undrafted free agent pool of players who desperately try to get noticed during training camp.
Shaw wasn't about to let that happen. At the Combine he put himself back on the radar of any team who's interest had drifted during his senior year by finishing amongst the leaders in the forty-yard dash (4.48), vertical jump, and the bench press. He even bested high-profile teammate Paul Posluszny, who's expected to be a first-round pick, in all three of those events.
To add to his momentum and rising draft stock, Shaw continued to push himself and posted even better results at his Pro Day on March 22nd. He reportedly ran a 4.42 forty-time (which many of the defensive backs in this year's draft would be envious of), improved on his Combine broad jump of 9'8 with a 10'6 effort and even beat his Combine 10- and 20-yard dash times. Since his 26 reps of the bench press in Indianapolis was only topped by three other linebackers, Shaw let that performance stand.
At the Combine, Shaw had a formal interview with Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio and his staff.
|(Getty Images/Al Bello)|
"The whole coaching staff was there, and it was really interesting. It wasn't as intimidating as I thought it would be," he said. "They fired questions at me, but nothing too pressing or strong.
"Then we actually got to talk some football, which was great. They had me draw some formations on the board, draw some defenses up and explain my role and responsibilities. I thought it went really well."
Shaw also met with roughly 25 linebacker coaches while he was in Indianapolis.
On Sunday, during an interview with Scout.com that will be published this week, Shaw said that he had a personal workout with the Jets' linebackers coach prior to his Pro Day. And he revealed that he has his first confirmed visit lined up. He'll be heading to Atlanta to visit the Falcons on April 10th.
After proving throughout his college career that he can play at a high level no matter where he's placed on the defensive side of the ball, the challenge for Shaw and the teams he's been talking to will be to figure out which of the linebacker positions he'll be competing at this summer in training camp.
"Different teams see me at different spots," he said. "Some 3-4 teams see me as an outside guy while some 4-3 teams see me at any spot.
"It's been really interesting for me. I didn't know what spot NFL teams would see me at, and I guess I was right to wonder, because they see me at different spots, too."
And that versatility is going to pay off for Tim Shaw, who's first-day selection status in this year's NFL Draft appears to be solidifying with every move he makes.
|A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews and features have been published across the Scout.com network and syndicated through FoxSports.com's NFL team pages.