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Sports

NFL Draft: Post-Combine Big Ten Defensive Rankings, Ohio State Linebacker Ryan Shazier

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NFL Draft: Post-Combine Big Ten Defensive Rankings, Ohio State Linebacker Ryan Shazier

2014-03-04 15:27:53

-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Linebacker Ryan Shazier makes tackle against Illinois. (Image Source: Greg Bartram/US Presswire)

Here are my Post-NFL Scouting Combine rankings of the defensive prospects coming out of the Big Ten conference:

1) CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State, Senior (Top 20)

2) DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota, Senior (Late First Round to Second Round)

3) OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State, Junior (6010, 237 pounds)

The All-Big Ten linebacker had one of the best combine performances of any Big Ten player. Shazier got off to a good start when he tipped the scales at 237 pounds. That’s a good 10-plus pounds heavier than he played at as a Buckeye. One of the biggest concerns regarding Shazier was size, more specifically, lack thereof. He remains somewhat undersized, but checked in much closer to the prototype than expected.

Scouts want to see explosiveness from linebacker prospects and Shazier did not disappoint. The OSU product had a 42” vertical jump and 10’8” broad jump. In case you aren’t sure, that’s explosion Holmes. His JV was 2” higher than the next linebacker, projected top-10 pick Khalil Mack. Shazier’s BJ was also the best among the linebacker group, again 2” longer than Mack’s effort.

His 6.91 three-cone time (sixth among linebackers) is a good indication of Shazier’s ability to change directions, which was to be expected. His talent when it comes to avoiding blockers in the open field is similar to how running backs avoid would be tacklers with their gift to make cuts while losing minimal speed. That’s what Shazier can do.

While he didn’t run the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis all you have to do is pop in the game tape and watch, the kid can fly to the ball as fast as any linebacker in this draft class. In addition to being a proven run stopper, Shazier has all the tools to drop back into coverage, as well as be an effective blitzer, which makes him that much-coveted three-down linebacker.

Not just a workout warrior, Shazier was a stat-sheet stuffer during his time in Columbus, among the most productive linebackers in all of college football in 2013. He posted 143 tackles, 101 of the solo variety as a junior, including 22.5 for loss, six of which were sacks. Shazier also got his hand on four passes and forced four fumbles.

He’s a hard hitter but at times didn’t always wrap up cleanly with great technique, something that he won’t be able to get away with as much at the next level. At times he will get caught up in the trash near the line of scrimmage, partly because of his size and partly because of his overzealousness to get into the backfield. His desire to make a big play can work against him.

Combining an outstanding 2013 campaign, in which Shazier was as good as any Big Ten defender, with an impressive combine performance and this Buckeye looks every bit the part of a the first round pick. He is probably one of the top one or two pure 4-3 linebacker prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft with his ideal landing spot on the weakside. Expect Shazier to be an above average starter with the potential to develop into a Pro Bowl caliber player within two or three seasons.

Projection: Late First Round to Second Round

Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. 

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