2014 NFL Draft: What Stanford LB Shayne Skov Must Prove to Be Worth a Draft Pick

Shayne Skov has been a great inside linebacker for the Stanford defense, but has some major flaws in his game he must improve in 2013. (Photo: USA Today Sports Images)

BBD Staff Writer: Joe Marino

Shayne Skov has already started 33 games at linebacker in his career at Stanford, and is back for another season as a fifth-year senior.

Skov got on the field early in his career at Stanford, starting seven games in 2009 as a true freshman. He had his best season in 2010 when he collected 84 tackles, 10.5 for loss and 6.5 sacks. His 2011 season was over in Week 3 due to a season-ending knee injury. He returned from injury in 2012 to start 13 games while compiling 81 tackles, 9 for loss and 2.5 sacks.

The 2012 version of Skov, however, was a disappointment. He really took a step back from what he displayed in 2010 as a healthy sophomore.

While his game had obvious flaws in 2010, there was reason to believe he could improve and potentially be a solid draft choice. After studying his 2012 season, there is a lot for Skov to prove in 2013 for me to consider him worthy of a draft selection.

Perhaps he was never fully healthy last season after coming back from the knee injury that cut his junior season short.. That said, he has an entire season in front of him to regain the optimism that surrounded him early in his career. Before I get into the flaws, let’s first examine what there is to like about Skov.

Why You Should Watch Shayne Skov in 2013

Skov is the starting middle linebacker on an excellent Stanford Cardinal defense. There is no way around just how solid the Cardinal defensive unit has been in recent years. Last season, the Cardinal defense ranked first in points per game, rushing yards per game, yards per play and total sacks. The most impressive stat was that they only allowed 2.3 yards per carry to opposing offenses last season. In the middle of that was Shayne Skov, and that’s the kind of successful defense you want your middle linebacker to have been a part of.

Skov really looks the part. Stanford’s official athletics site site lists him at 6’3’’ and 244 pounds. Those are great measurables for an inside linebacker.

Skov plays best when the game is in front of him. He operates fairly well in small spaces. He is a good tackler who plays with decent physicality.

Skov has been effective as an inside blitzer during his career. He has displayed the ability to get pressure up the middle with great timing and being able to get by guards. This ability goes a long way in keeping him on the field, considering he projects primarily as a two-down thumper against the run at the next level.

What Skov Needs to Prove in 2013

Skov’s range is extremely limited. He is not a sideline-to-sideline player. He is constantly chasing ball carriers from behind due to his lack of lateral quickness and agility. He doesn’t overcome this by taking good angles to the ball either. He has no suddenness or burst to his game. He lacks athleticism and explosiveness.

Skov struggles mightily to shed blockers. There are times they appear to be stuck to him, and he is very easy for blockers to seal off. He does not fare well when laterally shifting through traffic to find the ball.

He has extremely tight hips that are revealed in his efforts to cover the pass. He is overmatched when trying to drop in coverage and run with anybody.

Skov also has a bad tendency to take a false step on every play.

Projecting Skov’s Draft Stock

I have been extremely critical while identifying the areas of Skov’s game that need work, but those undeniably show up when breaking down his 2012 game film. His vast areas of concern make me question if he is worth selecting at any point in the draft. Because of his role on a dominant defense, I think he is worth a look late in the draft. If he can regain his from from 2010, that could increase to a fifth-round grade.

There is just too much disappointment and concern when seeing Skov perform for me to have a high level of interest in his pro potential. I will be sure to watch what Skov’s game looks like in 2013, and see if he regains his 2010 form.

Tags: Inside Linebackers, Prospect to Watch, Shayne Skov, Stanford

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