Ryan Shazier   LB   Ohio St

TALENT BOARD ROUND 3

STRENGTHS
Ryan has solid overall talent, athletic skills, size and speed to be an excellent linebacker for the team that drafts him. He has those long legs that give him the ability to cover ground quickly when playing the run or in pass coverage. Ryan has long arms that allow him to trail players in coverage and still have the defensive radius to make a play on the ball. He shows on film the lower body strength that is needed to have that all important burst and explosion to make a tackle behind the line of scrimmage or make a sack on the quarterback. He has played inside and outside linebacker and because of his athletic talent, has been one of the core players for the defense. When Ryan is used to attack the line of scrimmage and get into the backfield, he is one of the quickest into the backfield I have seen in this entire draft. In the right system, Ryan will be an impact player for the team that drafts him.

CONCERNS
Ryan may be thinking too much at this point of his career. He struggles to recognize what is happening in the running game and is slow to get off blocks and make tackles at the line. He has the coverage skills, but for some reason struggles in zone converge to make his drops quickly enough. He lacks the football instincts and intelligence at this point of his career to match his athletic talent. He seems to have a solid work ethic, but at this point, unless he is attacking the line of scrimmage as a blitzing linebacker, he is not identifying plays fast enough to make the impact tackles he will need to make at the next level.

BOTTOM LINE
Basically what Iím suggesting is that when his opponent is in a third and one situation, Ryan is not the linebacker making that tackle. Itís not because he canít physically make the tackle, itís because he is either thinking too much or is not aware of the down and distance situation. If you select Ryan and put him in a system where his responsibility is to attack the line of scrimmage and worry about screens plays to his side, Ryan could be a standout player. If you draft him and expect him to be your main linebacker who covers slot receivers, tight ends and identifies and makes plays around the line of scrimmage, I think youíre expecting too much from Ryan. His athletic talents suggest he can be that type of linebacker, but his football instincts and football intelligence right now suggest that he will struggle if used in that capacity immediately after being drafted. This makes Ryan (for me) more of a systems linebacker and that means not every team will feel that Ryan fits their defense in spite of the fact he has the athletic talent to play in any style of defense and at any one of the linebacker positions. Itís hard to say what round Ryan will be selected in and I know some teams because of his athletic talent, will rate him higher than others, but right now itís hard for Ryan to take what he learns in practice and perform on the field at an impact NFL level. It will take time and good coaching to overcome Ryan using his athletic talent to compensate for his lack of reaction skills to what is happening on the field quicker than he does right now. Once this happens, Ryan can, and will, impact. I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. I just think right now that the tunnel is a bit long.

Drew Boylhart
FEB/2014