NOTE: In the days leading up to the draft, Dairyland Express will profile the players who could potentially be coming to the Green Bay Packers with the 21st overall pick in the first round. Today, Ohio State outside linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Ryan Shazier of Ohio State is rated by Scouts Inc. as the No. 2 outside linebacker available in the NFL Draft, with several mock drafts projecting Shazier as the pick for the Green Bay Packers at No. 21 overall.
Shazier does present a bit of a conundrum, because his production at Ohio State was off-the-charts good, but there are concerns about his size at the next level.
At a shade over 6-foot-1 and 237 pounds, Shazier reportedly has worked had to put on weight but struggles to keep it on and he is very lean in the lower body.
Shazier left Ohio State after his junior year after leading the Buckeyes in tackles as both a sophomore and a junior, joining an elite list of Ohio State linebackers to lead the team in tackles two straight years that includes James Laurinaitis, current Packer A.J. Hawk, Chris Spielman and Pepper Johnson.
He had 15 games in his career with 10 or more tackles and made 134 tackles last season, 22.5 for loss, and had six sacks and four forced fumbles and was a finalist for the Butkus Award, presented to the nation’s best linebacker.
His 22.5 tackles for loss ranked third in the nation in FBS and he matched Big Ten records by being named defensive player of the week three times last season and five times in his career.
Shazier’s biggest strength is his speed—he is a sideline-to-sideline player who can track running backs down from behind, but can get himself caught running under blocks that should be fought through. He can also function well as an every-down linebacker, with improving recognition skills in coverage. As a pass rusher, he has terrific closing speed to the quarterback but can struggle to counter when blocked.
In pass coverage, he can get too physical at times, but can run with most running backs and tight ends; he posted a 4.59 40-yard dash time at the combine.
His biggest weakness as a defender relates to his size—he just isn’t big enough or strong enough and can get buried by offensive linemen if he’s forced to play in a small area. He compensates for this as much as he can with his quick hands and feet to slip blocks.
Shazier will also have to develop just a bit more of a disciplined approach at the NFL level; he has a tendency to gamble and can get caught peeking too often and can be a tick slow reacting to play-action, misdirection and draw plays.