There is plenty of buzz around the Cleveland Browns camp with the addition of Johnny Manziel to the team. Instead of beating a dead horse, it’s time to focus on a player who has flown under the radar for his entire career. No one’s talking about Connor Shaw, the former South Carolina quarterback, but that’s just the way he likes it.
Shaw, the son of a high school football coach, quietly led the Gamecocks to 27 wins throughout his career and was a perfect 17-0 at home. That doesn’t even give him credit for the epic comeback win at Missouri last season, when Shaw came off the bench dealing with both a sprained knee and sickness to lead the Gamecocks to victory. (Via ESPN)
The Flowery Branch native came into South Carolina as a scrambler first and passer second. That mentality had changed by his senior campaign with Shaw passing for 24 touchdowns and just ONE interception. So why did the winningest quarterback in South Carolina history go undrafted?
Critics said that he leaned on his running ability too much and wasn’t a natural passer. At 6-foot-1, Shaw is too short to be a successful NFL quarterback. South Carolina rode the defense and running game to win during his career.
Anyone who thinks that Shaw cannot pass the ball should watch the 15-yard touchdown strike to Bruce Ellington on FOURTH down that allowed the Gamecocks to escape “the other Columbia” with a win over fifth ranked Missouri. Watch any of his bowl game performances as well, and it is quite evident that Shaw can pass the ball on any stage.
It IS true that Shaw is shorter than the average NFL quarterback. It’s also true that Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have both won Super Bowls while being “too short” to start in the NFL. The Browns gambled on a short quarterback in Johnny Manziel as well.
Will Connor Shaw be a Super Bowl winning quarterback? No. Will he be a franchise quarterback in this league? Most likely not. But should the Browns keep him on the roster in the fall? Absolutely.
Why should the Browns keep him? Connor Shaw is not a football machine. He will not throw for 3,000 yards or 30 touchdowns, but he will make a team better. Shaw’s best attributes have nothing to do with stats.
Shaw is a selfless teammate and an absolute warrior of a player. He played through injury whenever humanly possible and sometimes even when it wasn’t. He always gave credit to his line and his team. He never broke a rule and only cared about the game. He IS the son of a football coach, remember? He lifted his team to its best season ever after being thrust into the starting role after Stephen Garcia’s fall from grace in Columbia.
He plays because he loves the game and has never cared about fame. He mentored Dylan Thompson since his arrival in Columbia, and he has only had positive things said from his teammates. He is mature beyond his years and respected by all of his teammates.
If he made the final roster for the Browns, they could greatly benefit from such a player. He will push Manziel and Hoyer in practice everyday while also supporting them and helping them. The locker room will be a better place with him there. Shaw would help tremendously in keeping the quarterbacks focused on the real objective, winning games.
Shaw will not become a superstar in the NFL, but he can help this Cleveland Browns team in ways that no one will understand except those that watched him at South Carolina. He has the talent to win the third string role, and the bonus of his leadership and selfless attitude will gave him a fair chance to get it.