Uses good tackling technique to wrap up ball-carriers
Regularly generates splash plays
Produces good down-and-distance situations
Reads his keys quickly to flow to the right position
Excellent in zone coverage
Can flip his hips to run with receivers
Man-coverage potential on tight ends, running backs
Was undersized, but gained weight
Needs to develop man-coverage ability
Could stand to hold up better in runs coming straight at him
Summary: If you watched Ohio State during the past two seasons, it was impossible to miss Shazier. The fast and instinctive linebacker was all over the field for the Buckeyes. He was the best and most consistent player on the their defense and had a habit of making splash plays.
Shazier made his way onto the field as a freshman in 2011 and contributed 58 tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles. In 2012, he broke out with a massive presence for Ohio State. The sophomore totaled 115 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, one interception, 11 passes broken up, five sacks and three forced fumbles for the year.
Shazier carried the Ohio State defense in 2013. The Buckeyes allowed a lot of points and yards, but it wasn't because of Shazier. He recorded 143 tackles with 22.5 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up, four forced fumbles and six sacks. Against Wisconsin and Northwestern, the junior played well to help Ohio State stop those teams' ground-based offenses. Shazier also had good performances against Illinois and Michigan. In the season opener against Buffalo, he played well overall, but was burned on a wheel route for a touchdown.
For the NFL, Shazier is an ideal run-and-chase linebacker. He is a superb tackler and does a good job of reading his keys to get in position to make the play. Shazier has blinding speed and can cover sideline to sideline. He is a dangerous blitzer and uses his speed to fire into the backfield to make a lot of tackles for a loss on perimeter runs. Shazier has a knack for producing good down-and-distance situations.
In pass coverage, Shazier is a tough zone defender. He covers a lot of ground and does a nice job of chasing down outlet receivers. Shazier could stand to improve his ability to play man-to-man. With his size, strength, speed and athleticism, he has the potential to be fantastic weapon in covering athletic receiving tight ends. Shazier'll need to be coached up for this, but he has the skill set to cover elite tight ends like Jimmy Graham or Vernon Davis.
Shazier looks like a play-making linebacker in the NFL with either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. He will be an asset as a run-stopper immediately and quickly should develop into a good pass-defender. Shazier already is effective in zone and as a blizter. He is a first-round talent who could end up being a Pro Bowl linebacker and a great value in the back half of Round 1.
Player Comparison: Lavonte David. Shazier's game is very similar to David (6-1, 233). Both of them are extremely fast and make plays from sideline to sideline. They have good instincts and are constantly around the ball. David is much further along in pass coverage, but Shazier has the athletic ability to be an asset in pass defense just like David is. David was a second-round pick while Shazier should go in the first round.
NFL Matches: Dallas, Arizona, Green Bay, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Denver
There are a lot of teams that could consider Shazier in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The highest that he could hope to go would be in the middle to back half of the first round.
The Cowboys would be higher than most expect, but Shazier would be a great fit in the Derrick Brooks role of Rod Marinelli and Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 defense. The Will (weakside) linebacker is critical, and Shazier would be a big upgrade for Dallas.
Arizona has hosted Shazier on a pre-draft visit, and he could bolster the middle of the team's defense. With Daryl Washington having some off-the-field issues, the Cardinals may consider Shazier with the 20th pick.
Green Bay would be a great fit for Shazier. He would improve the Packers' ability to shut down the middle of the field and an opposing team's ground game. A.J. Hawk is aging, and Green Bay's division features Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte and Reggie Bush. Having a fast run-and-chase linebacker like Shazier would improve the Packers defense.
The Bengals could use a linebacker upgrade next to Vontaze Burfict. James Harrison was cut, while Rey Maualuga is in the final year of his contract. However, Cincinnati is more likely to address cornerback or the offensive line in the first round.
The Saints also could consider Shazier as an upgrade for their inside linebackers. However, New Orleans is more likely to use its pick on another position.
Denver could stand to improve its linebacking corps. Shazier would be a nice weapon for Jack Del Rio and John Fox.