The names have come and gone and come around again as we all try to track the NFL Draft prospects who might be in the cross-hairs of the Green Bay Packers - that target most recently falling on the back of Ryan Shazier, the linebacker out of Ohio State.
Over the course of the past couple of days, Shazier has been the guy in several mock drafts after names like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Calvin Pryor, Louis Nix III, Eric Ebron, and even Jimmie Ward have all been bantered about as the Packers number one pick.
Defense will be a focus of the Packers again this draft as they attempt to fill holes at safety, linebacker and along the defensive line. That’s why Shazier has climbed the board for many mockers who feel that his versatility and speed will get big points when the Packers are on the clock with the twenty-first pick.
So if everyone’s so high on this guy at this point, who is he and will he really be a great addition for the Packers?
Consider the take by CheeseheadTV’s look at Shazier. They rank him as the third best outside linebacker in their recently-released draft guide, saying that, “This offseason, the Packers coaches have openly bemoaned the lack of ‘impact’ players on their defense. The undersized (6-1, 237 pounds) Shazier would help fix that problem real fast.”
Shazier is said to have run a 4.36 40-yard dash at his pro day, certainly enough speed at the next level. And though his size is questioned, his heart, desire and technique are not.
Here’s what nfl.com wrote about his strengths:
Highly productive, disruptive playmaker vs. the run and pass. Shoots gaps and plays behind the line of scrimmage (compiled 39.5 TFL the last two seasons). Agile to slip blocks. Quick, strong hands to shed. Knifes gaps and flows very well laterally. Striking tackler — uncoils on contact. Excellent speed and range — opens up his stride in space and really covers ground. Bends naturally. Changes direction and accelerates with ease. Explosive first step as a pass rusher — shows the ability to dip, bend and run the arc low to the ground. Ample athleticism and flexibility to mark backs and tight ends. Four-down utility. Arrow is pointing up.
So that all sounds well and good, but would Shazier fit into the Packers scheme? Clearly he would have to bulk up – in addition, he has had some injury history that might be of concern, especially for the Packers and their highly cautious approach to all injuries.
And considering the Packers need linebackers who can hold their gap, they need players who have size and speed.
It’s interesting to think some mockers would place Shazier so high on the Packers first round target. There are seemingly a lot of high quality players who might rank higher than Shazier – especially when considering that we’re talking about the number 21 pick of the first round.
I’m not sold and Shazier in the first round is a stretch. A safety or even a different linebacker like C.J. Mosely might be the better selection at this spot.
Who knows? Maybe Shazier would fall into the second or even the third round of the draft where they Packers would certainly get a player with solid value.