Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State (HT: 6'1"; WT: 237 lbs.)
First Round: 15th Pick
NFL Draft Comparison: Lavonte David, OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
+ Explosive athlete who covers lots of ground
+ Hits well above his weight as a tackler
+ Rangy in coverage with loose hips and agile feet
+ Added value as a rusher from the edge or from space
- Very lean frame
- Struggles to read keys and maintain gap discipline
- Inconsistent tackling technique
|40-yd dash||10-yd split||Vert||Broad||3-Cone||Shuttle|
Ryan Shazier has some of the best physical tools of any player in this draft class. He's on the leaner side for a linebacker but plays with sufficient power. It's the athleticism that sets him apart. As evidenced by a 4.36 unofficial 40-yard dash at his pro day (on a fast track), Shazier has speed to burn. He gets to top speed in an instant.
His 42" vertical jump at the combine shows the type of power that comes from his legs. These are incredible measurements for a linebacker prospect and show up on the field as well.
Managing to add weight will be important for Shazier. He tipped the scales at only 237 pounds at the combine, and his playing weight was likely even lower. Being on the light side isn't a deal-breaker but is an important detail.
As a junior, Shazier was one of eight Buckeyes to be chosen as a team captain by a vote of his teammates. His team-first mentality is a common theme. On the field though, Shazier must become a more disciplined player. He's prone to picking up cheap penalties after plays by letting his emotions get the best of him.
One of the bigger concerns with him is a lack of read-and-react skills that linebacker play requires. He can be slow to decipher information in terms of reading keys. That slows him down on some occasions or leads to indecision on others.
Clemson's offense involves lots of window dressing, so reading keys is very important. They have a QB power called here, so the back-side guard will pull and the front-side tackle will double down on the defensive tackle. If Shazier's eyes are in the right place, he should read the pull and follow it right to the play.
Instead, Shazier has his eyes on the backfield and follows the speed sweep to the edge, despite the fact that he's not the contain player. His false steps to the outside allow the pulling guard to lead up the hole, kick him out and spring a long touchdown run.
Shazier's versatility is a big plus and includes the variety of ways in which he can be used to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. His terrific burst and sense of timing make him an effective blitzer from space. He also walked down to the line of scrimmage and rushed off the edge to fine effect as a junior. Shazier has shown flexibility, speed and instincts as a rusher that can be used to create mismatches on the edge.
As shown with his read-and-react skills, Shazier can be an inconsistent run defender. When not having to pick his way through traffic at the second level, he is an elite run-stopping talent, though. For a linebacker who doesn't play on the line of scrimmage to rack up 23.5 tackles for loss, as Shazier did in 2013, is proof of an ability to make big plays. If he plays behind a defensive line that can engage run-blockers and allow him to roam unimpeded, he will be a highly effective run-stopper in the NFL.
Shazier's raw power as a tackler is another bonus. When he meets ball-carriers in the hole, he can end it quickly. He has issues with tackling technique where he fails to break down in space or wrap and drive through tackles. Considering the limitations on NFL practices, it's tough to see these inconsistencies ever going away.
Shazier has the athletic ability to be effective in coverage. His fluid hips, agile feet and long speed allow him to track receivers or tight ends in man coverage or drop into deeper zones. Coverage instincts are not among his strong suits though, as his overall awareness isn't great. Shazier has plenty of upside for pass coverage, but he surely brings more value rushing the passer, at least early on.
Ryan Shazier's best fit is as a weak-side linebacker in a 4-3. His ability to move forward or backwards on passing downs would shine. He also wouldn't be regularly asked to take on run-blockers in the hole, using his acceleration and chase speed instead.
Those 3-4 defenses that employ bigger, two-gapping defensive linemen should have interest as well. He would still play on the weak side but from an inside-linebacker position. In either scheme, Shazier has the versatility to line up on the edge and rush. His ability to fit multiple schemes only increases his value as a draft prospect.
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