There has been much talk this offseason about how the Vikings need to address the linebacker position. I agree with this and think that besides Quarterback, it is our biggest need. I refuse to try and evaluate Quarterbacks, however, because there are too many factors that go into a good Quarterback. Every other position, I love to evaluate. I have spent quite a bit of time over the last year watching Stanford Cardinal games, and game film after the season ended. The Cardinal Defense was the strong side of the team this year, allowing 18.6 points per game and less than 90 yards rushing. The player on this defense that stood out to me the most was linebacker Shayne Skov.
· Coming in at 6’3 and weighing 245 pounds Skov is almost perfect size for an NFL linebacker.
· He is a 5th year senior who played as a true freshman, as a sophomore, but then suffered a terrible leg injury at the beginning of his junior year.
· Skov tore his ACL, MCL, and broke his tibia, and was able to injury red shirt that year.
· Skov lists his home town as Guadalajara, Mexico, but went to high school in New York.
· He came out of high school listed as the 45th best recruit in the nation by Rivals.com
· This last season Skov finished with 109 total tackles, 13 TFL, 5.5 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles.
· He was all PAC-12 at Inside Linebacker and a second team all American.
Skov was a very good leader and player for one of the top defenses. Many scouts have him ranked as a second to early third rounder, and I think he would be an excellent pick for the Vikings. Skov is very good against the run because he has quick feet to weave between blockers, but power to fight off blocks from offensive linemen when needed. There are many times that Skov found himself one on one in space with a ball carrier and was able to make a tackle in open space. It may not have always been pretty, but the tackle was made. Skov knows how to approach offensive lineman well with his arms extended out and is very good at using his hands. He has a very good head on his shoulders and is a student of the game as he was known for watching a lot of film and knowing tendencies of opposing offenses. Skov also has a lankier frame and can cover a lot of ground in coverage. He is definitely not a liability against the pass and he times his blitzes well. I think Skov could come in and compete for a starting spot and linebacker, (preferably inside, but I think he has the versatility to play a Sam or Will backer). Also I think he could be a key piece to a new regime of young defensive players under Mike Zimmer.
Some of the knocks and criticisms of Skov are that he is not an elite athlete and lacks top level speed, but these issues will either be put off or shown at the combine. Injury concerns are also there for Skov but he has only had one major injury in his career as a junior. Another is that when he tackles it is sometimes at the upper half of the body, sometimes hitting the head of the ball carrier which might draw penalties at the next level. He also sometimes does not breakdown in space and could end up being juked out of his shoes by some in the NFL. All in all I see Skov as a top linebacker prospect in this coming NFL draft and would be happy if we took him with our second round pick, and would be ecstatic if he lasted to the third.
I encourage all of you to visit Draftbreakdown.com and look at some videos on Shayne Skov, and see if you agree with my assessment of him.
(On a side note, Skov is an avid twitter user and it seems that he has a strange obsession with Pokemon, he is also an extreme gamer in his spare time. Very passionate guy about his beliefs.)