With the Washington Redskins selecting DE Jonathan Allen No. 17 overall and the Detroit Lions selecting LB Jarrad Davis No. 21 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, performance trainer Tom Shaw has now worked with 147 NFL first-round choices, many of which he trained at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. Shaw – a renowned performance coach who has trained the likes of 2016 NFL Rookie of the Year Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys), Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Calvin Johnson (retired, Detroit Lions), Chris Johnson (Arizona Cardinals) and Peyton Manning (retired, Denver Broncos), among others – gave us his thoughts on his class of 2017 rookies and how he thinks they will perform at the next level.
Disney: Who’s your Khalil Mack this season? Who will fly under the radar but have a standout season?
Shaw: Jarrad Davis (Florida) is going to have a great rookie year. He was injured the last half of his college season and he kept playing on it. And that’s what makes him different. Other guys get hurt, and they don’t play. This kid, all he does is care about football. His preparation, work ethic, dedication, knowledge of the game. He always wants to get better. That’s Khalil Mack (Oakland Raiders DE, 2x Pro Bowl player, 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year), that’s Bruce Irvin (Oakland Raiders LB)…that’s a guy that I think is a guarantee.
Disney: Who are a few guys who won’t get drafted high or at all, but will still have an impact at the next level?
Shaw: Trevor Knight is a quarterback from Texas A&M. If he gets in the right situation, Trevor’s my next Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys QB). I couldn’t get [Jon] Gruden to bring him on the show [Gruden’s QB Camp on ESPN], and he wasn’t invited to a lot of stuff. But he got invited to the NFL Combine and he did better than every quarterback there. He ran faster, he jumped higher, did the shuttle faster, he tested well. Trevor Knight’s a kid that’s gonna be great.
I think Matt Milano (Dr. Phillips High, Boston College) may not get drafted, but he’s a kid that can come in and end up playing. And he’ll make the 53-man roster because he’s going to be another guy that’s a worker. He won’t have any issues, coaches will fall in love with him; they’ll know he’s gonna be [on the field] where he’s supposed to be and not running all over the place. He’ll play his position (LB).
There’s another kid named Rodney Adams (WR, USF). Rodney is the kind of kid that he’ll need to be in the right situation. If Rodney is in the right situation where he doesn’t have any pressure on him, he will shine. He could really do well.
Taquan Mizzell (Virginia), a running back. He was very successful in the ACC, but wasn’t invited to anything. Dak Prescott threw with him when he was here for the Pro Bowl. He threw with all the rookies, but he said to Taquan, “I’m gonna get you on my team.” And Dak has the ability to tell the offensive coordinator and the pro personnel director and the owner, “We need that kid,” which he said he was going to do. He called me and asked for all his stats, so I sent them to him. He’s a kid that I think could be really successful. He can do everything. He was a 5-star out of high school and he chose Virginia, he chose to stay home. He could have been gone anywhere and succeeded. I think he’ll do a lot better in the pros.
Disney: Jonathan Allen was selected No. 17 overall, by the Redskins. What are those factors that he needs to succeed at the next level?
Tom Shaw: Without a doubt, being on the right team with the right support system, and not having that pressure that you have to be successful. Look at Dak Prescott. Even though he was the starting quarterback, they really weren’t putting it all on him. He had a running back, he had a great OL, he has receivers, so it wasn’t all him. But for some guys, it has to be all them. They have to make plays instead of just trying to do their job.
Disney: Last season, Prescott trained with you. What is it about him that leads you to believe he won’t fall victim to sophomore slump this season?
Tom Shaw: Once you start getting a big head and you start doing marketing and promotions, and you stop training like a lot of guys do. As soon as they become celebrities, they forget where they came from. They forget how hard they worked to get here. Dak’s not that guy. Dak was here for the Pro Bowl and he came and worked out with the rookies between Pro Bowl practices. Then he came back and stayed here for three weeks and worked the whole time to get better. He couldn’t care less about who’s starting because he’s gonna outwork everyone in the building. That’s Dak. Some guys take every opportunity they can to make money off the field, and football becomes secondary. That’s not Dak Prescott.