Josh Shaw: A Scouting Report on Bengals’ New Defensive Back


Jan 21, 2015; Mobile, AL, USA; North squad wide receiver Justin Hardy of East Carolina (82) carries the ball against North squad defensive corner Josh Shaw of USC (16) during North squad Senior Bowl practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals went into the fourth round of the NFL Draft with the plan of doing what they do best, taking the best available player. Josh Shaw was once seen as arguably the best cornerback in this year’s draft class, but due to some decisions Shaw had lied about before the season (as you’ve probably heard twenty times), he was suspended and it ultimately raised maturity questions. Although the offense wasn’t too egregious, it ended up damaging his draft stock and he fell to the Bengals in the fourth round (who attempted to trade up for him). But regardless of how he arrived in Cincinnati, Shaw is in stripes, so how good is his game tape? Here’s a summary.


Josh Shaw offers above-average size for a cornerback and can take receivers away from the ball with his size. Great frame. He bursts towards the ball to make a play when he sees the opportunity. Shaw can be very disruptive in press coverage. He consistently rips the ball away at the point of arrival and he doesn’t swipe at it beforehand. Versatile, as he played both cornerback and safety at USC. Shaw offers foot quickness when the ball and receiver are in front of him. He’s a consistent tackler and can go from high to low quickly. Shows great football intelligence, as he is rarely fooled by misdirection and play fakes. Shaw isn’t a big gambler, but knows when he can make a play of the ball. He would rather swat the ball than try to intercept it. Physical. Great attacking the ball downhill.  This is where he exceeds expectations the most.


Josh Shaw isn’t always fluid when turning hips, as he sometimes struggled when going from back pedal to trail, allowing players to get behind him. Tight hips. He doesn’t take good angles in run coverage and won’t really create turnovers. He must work on hands in press coverage, as he could get flagged in the NFL. Shaw must be coached up both at cornerback and safety and improve his technique. For some reason, his straight line speed isn’t as great as his 4.44 40-time would suggest. Shaw isn’t the biggest hitter. Must work on being able to switch back up field and hit top speed quickly.


Josh Shaw has a ton you like in a player. However, the lack of a true position really hurt his technique and ultimately his on-field performance. Shaw will most likely be seen as a slot cornerback, as much of his tape offers flashes of Adam Jones of recent years. Don’t be surprised, however, if they move Shaw to safety as well.

Shaw is a reliable player who is solid in every aspect of the game. He exceeds with knowing his assignment and keeping the play in front of him to make a play. He struggles primarily when his hips get too tight and a receiver gets behind him; hopefully he can be coached to avoid such situations.

Shaw shows the ability to stop plays for no yards or minimum gain as his football intelligence and awareness is tremendous. Shaw is a little raw with his hip technique, but he landed in a good spot. Shaw could end up starting for the Bengals down the line, but this year he will most likely be learning technique and seeing minimal playing time.

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