By BBD Staff Writer Eric Samulski
As football season nears, we fans are blessed with an incredible amount of games to watch and information to process. Even as the Bills continue to push closer to playoff contention, scouting the collegiate ranks for future stars remains of the utmost importance. Throughout the season I’ll be bringing you prospects that I feel would be great additions to the 2013 Buffalo Bills. They might not always be the best overall players, but they possess physical skill sets and athletic characteristics that I think will make them, at worst, solid NFL players.
The first player I’m going to talk about is my favorite player to watch in college football: Stanford inside linebacker Shane Skov.
You can describe him in one word: fearsome. At 6’3” 245 pounds, Skov is an intimidating presence on the field. Aside from his massive amounts of eye black, Skov possesses high 4.5 speed and incredible instincts. Watch any Stanford game and you’re guaranteed to find Skov around the ball. He seems to compete at a non-stop effort level and is unquestionably a leader both on the field and off.
Skov played sparingly as a freshman, starting at weakside linebacker before moving inside when Stanford switched to a 3-4 scheme. The results were immediate. During his sophomore season in 2010 Skov compiled 84 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. He showed great feel for the blitz, darting past lineman before they knew where he was, and also displayed above average make-up speed in coverage, constantly making tackles across the field. He seems to show more straight-line speed than lateral quickness, but his instincts allow him to flow to the ball with relative ease. Once there, he goes for the kill every time, driving the tackler into the ground with near perfect form.
Skov was looking to build off of that success last season before tearing his ACL after two games and missing the remainder of the season. With only above average lateral quickness to begin with, his recovery from injury will be important to keep an eye on. As strictly an inside linebacker prospect, a decrease in speed can be made up for by his physicality and play recognition skills. If Skov were to move back to outside linebacker, where the Bills have a bigger need, he will need to prove that he can move with the necessary lateral quickness.
Before the injury, as a sophomore, Skov dropped into coverage regularly and showed the ability to stay with most tight ends and larger wide receivers. It wasn’t a large sample size, but he showed enough to suggest that he might be as effective in coverage as Nick Barnett. He’s never going to be a guy you count on the shut down any of New Englan’s tight ends, but he’s such a force against the run, on the blitz, and such a natural leader, that if he can prove to be even average in coverage, he’d be a great three down linebacker in the NFL.