They're not likely to hear their names called during the first round of the NFL Draft on May 8, but Tajh Boyd and Connor Shaw hold the encouragement of ESPN analyst Jon Gruden to get a chance at success as professional quarterbacks.
What: NFL Draft
Where: Radio City Music Hall, New York City
Round 1: Thursday, May 8, 8 p.m.
Rounds 2-3: Friday, May 9, 7 p.m.
Rounds 4-7: Saturday, May 10, noon
"Those are two really productive quarterbacks," Gruden said during Tuesday's teleconference with reporters.
Boyd in particular garnered Gruden's affection when the former Clemson All-American was one of nine prospects featured on Gruden's QB Camp this spring.
Gruden won Super Bowl XXXVII while head coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is now a Monday Night Football commentator, but this time of year he's got his eye on the next generation of NFL quarterbacks.
"One of the things I like about Boyd the most is he's a finisher. He didn't come out early; he went back to Clemson to finish with his teammates," Gruden said. "He is a quarterback that has a live arm, he can run, he has production passing and running."
The 2012 ACC Player of the Year who finished as Clemson's all-time leader in every major passing category, Boyd remains below the top bunch of quarterback prospects due to his size (6-1, 222) and occasional poor efforts in big games as well as in the 2014 Senior Bowl.
"He had tremendous peaks at Clemson in this no-huddle spread offense, with some great individual performances," Gruden assessed. "He's also had valleys - the three South Carolina losses, the struggle against Florida State - I think people are studying those games against high-profile competition and wondering why he struggled a little bit in those outings. He's just got to become more consistent."
Boyd's March 13 visit with Gruden could be a good omen, for whatever stat this is worth: 25 of the 29 passers on the ESPN program from 2010-13 were drafted between Rounds 1-4.
"I really like Tajh," Gruden said. "I think he's going to be a mid-round selection and he'll develop in somebody's system and have a chance to be a good player if they get some continuity around him."
The winningest quarterback in South Carolina history, Shaw remains a likely late-round selection or free agent selection. Gruden said Shaw's relationship with and tutelage under Steve Spurrier could aid his cause.
"Shaw is capable of running a variety of offenses. He's a winning quarterback, he's had sustained production," Gruden said. "Does he throw it well enough? How he's performed in his individual workouts will be critical for him."
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