South Carolina CB wonders aloud why Shaw's not more highly respected as NFL prospect
INDIANAPOLIS - Each of Connor Shaw's four teammates in Indianapolis faced the same general line of questioning from national reporters: basically, what they thought about their highly decorated leader not being considered a hot NFL commodity.
Shaw's lack of size, arm strength and durability have proved as points against his professional prospects, even though he left South Carolina as the winningest quarterback in school history, never having lost a home game and willing to play hurt by constantly shaking off injuries.
This is how the exchange went with cornerback Vic Hampton, the final Gamecocks player to meet the media, on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Reporter: "You've obviously faced Connor Shaw quite a bit in practice."
Reporter: "But there are a lot of people doubting whether or not he can be a viable NFL quarterback ."
Hampton interrupted, incredulous. "Why?"
The reporter, a bit startled by Hampton's defiance, asked him to state Shaw's case.
Hampton was happy to oblige.
"You want the toughest quarterback in the SEC, plays through every injury you can possibly think of. He can run the ball, he's a dual (threat) quarterback, but he can also throw the ball," Hampton rattled off. "I mean, he's a winner. At the end of the day, isn't that what quarterbacks are about? Isn't that what you want as a quarterback, is a winner? He's not a guy who's gonna be rah-rah, but when he does speak, it's gonna mean a lot."
It was pointed out to Hampton that Shaw plays in a conference laden with well-known quarterbacks - Alabama's AJ McCarron, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Georgia's Aaron Murray - to name three. Shaw is not even the most heralded QB in his own state - that would be Clemson's Tajh Boyd.
So did that bother the Gamecocks through their college careers?
"Yeah, it does," Hampton said. "We've been in the SEC 3-4 years balling. He's had a lot of success. He's beat a lot of those quarterbacks that everybody's talking about. But he just doesn't get the recognition."
Shaw is regarded as a late-round draft option, or perhaps a preferred free agent. The proficient scrambler posted an official 40-yard-dash time of 4.66 seconds, the third-best time among quarterbacks Sunday.
Shaw's 116-inch broad jump (that's leaping 9 feet, 8 inches from a set position) ranked second at his position, and his 34-inch vertical leap ranked third.
Boyd's combine totals were a 4.84 40-yard-dash (seventh among QBs), 30.5-inch vertical (sixth), and a 106-inch broad jump (12th). Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas led all three categories.
For the rest of their lives, Clemson's Martavis Bryant can hang with Sammy Watkins, extend his hand with his thumb and index finger squeezed to nearly touch each other, and remind his All-American teammate of eternal bragging rights.
Bryant posted a 4.42-second 40-yard-dash, good for sixth among wide receivers. Right behind him was Watkins, at 4.43.
South Carolina product Bruce Ellington, Watkins' new friend and training partner, wasn't far back, tied for 11th with a 4.45-second mark.
Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, who beat out Watkins for the 2013 Biletkinoff Award as the nation's top receiver, won the overall race in 4.33 seconds.
Ellington was tied for third with a 39.5-inch vertical jump, followed closely by Bryant's 39-inch hops. Watkins had a surprisingly low leap, at 34 inches, but he was still among the top scores in broad jump and 20-yard shuttle. Bryant placed sixth in the 3-cone drill.
Comparing the greats
Boyd was asked at his Saturday press conference if Watkins was the greatest receiver he'd ever been around. Not being imprisoned by a short memory, Boyd recalled he had a pretty good one in 2012, too.
Comparing the greats
"I mean, it's pretty close between him and (DeAndre) Hopkins," Boyd said. "The one thing that Sammy offers is his work ethic. He's probably the most complete receiver here. He's just a very wise guy. He's very mature beyond his years. He's going to be a special asset to whatever team grabs him."
In a media appearance Sunday, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock suggested Watkins could be in the mix for the No. 1 overall selection, which would team him again with Hopkins on the Houston Texans.