Former Palmetto State QBs face obstacles

North quarterback Tajh Boyd (10), of Clemson, slides in front of the would be tackle from South line backer Telvin Smith (22), of Florida State, during the first half of the Senior Bowl NCAA college football game on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

North quarterback Tajh Boyd (10), of Clemson, slides in front of the would be tackle from South line backer Telvin Smith (22), of Florida State, during the first half of the Senior Bowl NCAA college football game on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Mobile, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Timing is everything.

Had Tajh Boyd left Clemson after his junior season in 2012, when his stock was through the roof after being named ACC Player of the Year, one of the Tigers’ most prolific quarterbacks ever might already be on an NFL roster and competing for playing time.

Boyd, who as late as November was projected to be a first-round draft pick in 2014, has instead watched his stock plummet over the past two months and is projected now to be a mid-to-late-round selection.

His situation is not rare; it’s a familiar tale in a league that analyses and overanalyzes everything former collegians do.

When Boyd was at Clemson, nobody really talked about his unconventional delivery or scrutinized his accuracy or told him he might be too short at just under 6-foot-1 to play at the next level.

All of those things and more have come into question since the Senior Bowl, which was played last Saturday.

Boyd didn’t perform well in an NFL system against other pro hopefuls during the week of practice and the game itself. After completing seven of his 16 passes for 31 yards while throwing one interception and no touchdowns, he was hardly alone among the struggling signal callers who underwhelmed, but draft analyst Tony Pauline said an unnamed Green Bay Packer scout told him last week that “based on what I’m seeing, Tajh Boyd is not draftable.”

Fair or not, it’s a tag that’s going to stick with Boyd until the early May draft.

I’m not saying every scout or NFL executive feels that way; it only takes one franchise to believe in a player. And Boyd will get a chance to prove otherwise at the NFL combine in February.

But he’s not the only QB with ties to the Palmetto State looking to make a statement when the league invites a host of hopefuls looking for a job this fall to workout in Indianapolis.

Connor Shaw, the winningest QB in the history of South Carolina football, is facing some of the same challenges as Boyd but is actually trending the other way.

Shaw played in the NFLPA Bowl a week earlier and impressed draft pundits. Some said he was the best QB at the event. He threw for 70 yards on 5-of-6 passing with one interception. That’s the same number of picks he threw during the 2013 regular season.

Unlike Boyd, Shaw’s never carried the same expectations and accolades. He was never an all-conference performer or Heisman Trophy candidate. However, similar to Boyd, Shaw’s dual-threat capabilities are a positive. He’s been labeled a runner who passes. There’s not a lot of job opportunities in a league based around the forward pass if a QB can’t get the ball down the field; accuracy on deep throws is one of the biggest knocks on Shaw.

He’s also the same height as Boyd and has been compared to successful Seattle Seahawk QB Russell Wilson. A big performance in the Super Bowl on Sunday for Wilson could help Shaw’s argument for the need for speed at the signal-caller position.

But even he knows there’s a chance he doesn’t hear his name called in New York, and he could be forced to go the free-agent route.

If there’s one area both Boyd and Shaw will help themselves in the coming months, it’s interviewing. Boyd is charismatic, outgoing and quite likable. Just like in any profession, those traits appeal to employers.

Shaw will come across as confident, intelligent and focused to executives. He might seem fit to join a military outfit, and that’s something that could cross over well to the NFL.

Both guys are undisputable leaders. That certainly means a lot in a league where the QB spot receives the most attention on the field and in the media.

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Comments » 4

brookesdad729 writes:

I have watched Tajh all year and even in games we won he just did not have that "edge" at all. It's almost looked like he's just tired of playing. It was just something missing in my opinion, like he was just going through the motions and not playing with the tenacity he did last year. It just made me wonder what's going on with him. Am I the only one who felt this way? It's one of those things you just can't put your finger on but you know something isn't quite right. Tajh is a much better player than he has played this year including in the Orange Bowl. I know we won and I take nothing away from that but we should've dragged Ohio State up and down that field. It's like we would get the momentum and then just give it back and we did that all year. It wasn't as evident with some teams because they were overmatched from the start and we could have won those blind-folded! It's going to be interesting but I do believe this year will be better for us because a fresh and somewhat new team will be taking the field. Prayerfully we will play like we have nothing to lose! All in! Go Tigers!

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

He had a 68.5% completion rate and threw for 34 touchdowns and ran an offense that averaged 40 points a game. Yea, he's lousy. He will wind up being the best deal any team has got in many years if he goes as low as the 4th round He's a much better quarterback than that.

TRUTH4U2 writes:

He can thank Dabo for pumping his head full of crap. If he would have left last year, he would be in the NFL. Now he will be lucky to be playing in Arena football.

clmtgr92 writes:

I watched the Senior Bowl and all of the North QB's had ugly performances. I still don't get why the draft experts are still in love with the human statue Logan Thomas. Most of the disappointment of these QB's performance during the game was from the lack of quality coaching by Mike Smith, and the North's horrible offensive line.
As most Tiger fans know, Tajh does not perform well under pressure. He throws off of his back foot to avoid getting hit. Hence his worst games have been against FSU and USCe the past two years. Tajh will be a back up QB in the NFL and will probably become a good coach at some level. He was a wonderful ambassador for Clemson and he was fun to watch.

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