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Shaw Sheds Some Light On The NFL Draft

timshawThis Saturday, just after 4 PM, the 2009 NFL Draft will begin. The eight Penn State players who attended the NFL Combine in February have some expectation of getting drafted. But what exactly goes on as these players’ pro aspirations hang in the balance? We caught up with former Nittany Lion and current NFL linebacker Tim Shaw to get an insider’s look at the draft.

Tim originally came to Happy Valley as a running back, was converted to linebacker to play alongside Paul Posluszny and Dan Connor, and eventually worked as a speed-oriented defensive end during his senior season. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Carolina Panthers in 2007, racking up a team second-best 14 tackles on special teams in his rookie year. He now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and was more than happy to offer his insights on the transition from the NCAA to pro football.

We don’t know a whole lot about what goes on the week before the draft. What is this week all about?
It’s a mental week more than anything. Everything that a player’s done, is done. Everything that he can do, he’s done already. There’s nothing left to prove. It’s all in the hands of the team.

I remember getting a phone call from just about every team that week. Up to the day before, they would check if they had the right phone number and make sure where you were going to be on draft day, that type of thing.

That’s kind of the only football thing that went on. For me, I just stayed in my workout routine and tried to stay busy, just to get the week over with.

Obviously, the draft is an entirely different experience for players who are invited to attend the draft in person. Is there a huge difference on waiting to be drafted on the first day or second day?
For the most part, guys have an idea where they are going to go. For me, I was thinking anywhere from the third to fifth round, and the hard thing about that is, it was between the first and second day. I knew – barring some miracle – I wasn’t going in the first round, so I didn’t get antsy until later into the first day of the draft. So when that happens to you, it’s a really stressful thing.

[There’s more inside.]

What I did is I had my whole family over at my parents’ house with just a couple friends. It wasn’t quite a draft party as much as a “let’s hang out and when it happens, we’ll all be here.” But it turned into a really stressful deal, because I didn’t get taken until the end of the fifth, and I kind of had higher expectations than that. Wherever you get drafted, you want to get drafted higher.

We watched a little bit of the draft on T.V., played some games, did a puzzle, [laughs] anything to pass the time. It drags on and on, and the funny thing is nobody knows what to say, everybody’s looking at me, and I’m a mess, saying “oh, it’s going to be OK.” So by the time I finally got that phone call, it was joy, but at the same time it’s like, “goodness’ sake let’s get this over with.

During the time between the end of the season and the draft, every aspiring pro works out for multiple teams and interviews with team personnel. For example, Philadelphia fans were excited to see that all three graduated wideouts – Derrick Williams, Deon Butler, and Jordan Norwood – worked out for the Eagles. How much stock should we put into who’s working out for what team?
Put NO stock in it. It’s so crazy. The draft is so crazy, because even the team doesn’t know what they’re going to do, because they don’t know what the team in front of them is going to do. For me, it was one of those things, you just don’t know.

With the Panthers, looking back, yeah, they had brought their linebacker coach to my workouts, yeah, I had talked with them, but it’s just one of those things – if I had to pick a team, I would have necessarily picked them [as the one who would draft me].

And during the draft, I had a couple teams call me and say “hey, hang in there, we’re going to try and grab you if we can.” That was the worst. I had one team call me twice, it was their linebacker coach, and he said “I’m trying to get you, but I’m not pulling the strings over here.” Then their next pick comes up, and they take another linebacker, and I’m like “oh, my God…” I would put no stock in it, to tell you the truth. Unless you are a first round guy, a team can tell you “we really like you, we’re going to do what we can to get you,” and maybe a team a couple picks before theirs, they may have never talked to you, but they’ll like you and they’ll pick you. So you can end up with a team that’s never talked to you, or a team where they’ve been showing you love and bam- they’ve got you.”

How important of a role does special teams experience play in getting drafted?
It’s very, very important. Especially as a player that no one really saw as a come-in-and-start type of guy, if you get drafted as a linebacker you have be able to step in and play on special teams right away. The fact that I played on almost special team at Penn State at one point or another, that was a huge selling point for me.

I remember when I got on the phone with the Panthers after they drafted me, their special teams coach said, “I can’t tell you how happy I am, you’re going to do so much for us”

Of all of the Nittany Lions declaring for the draft, only Aaron Maybin is a guaranteed first-day pick. Out of this year’s Penn State draft class, is there anyone you think will surprise people as to how early he’s taken?
I think this year it will be interesting just to see where everyone goes. Because every year you’re generally [making predictions of] this or that, and last year we all thought Dan was going to go early and he ended up going in the third round – you never know.

But my best friend on the team is Gerald Cadogan, so I’m excited to see where he goes. I think he’ll be kind of a surprise mid-round or earlier pick.

It will be interesting indeed. Look for more NFL Draft Coverage from Onward State tomorrow.

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About the Author


Mark McColey is a Senior majoring in Advertising and Labor-Employment relations. Among his loves are Penn State Football, The Steelers, The Penguins, The Simpsons, Tina Fey, and Arrested Development.

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