(Editor's Note: Heading into the upcoming NFL Draft, held May 8-10, DallasCowboys.com will take a closer look at the prospects, including some that could be potential fits with the Cowboys. Today's featured player is Ohio State's Ryan Shazier).
College: Ohio State
Honors:Shazier, a two-time first-team All-Big 10 selection, was a first-team All-American, Butkus Award finalist and Bednarik and Lott Award Semifinalist last season. Shazier tied Big Ten records with three conference Defensive Player of the Week honors his junior year and recorded five total during his career.
Key stat:Shazier ranks sixth all-time in Ohio State history in solo tackles (208) and tackles for loss (44.5), despite declaring for the NFL Draft after his junior year. He led the team in tackles in 2012 and 2013 and led the Big Ten with 143 total tackles last season.
Where He's Projected: The Ohio State linebacker's quickness, athleticism and ability to play all three downs will likely make him a first-round selection in this year's draft. Shazier's considered by many to be the next best linebacker prospect after Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr, and of the three prospects, he'd be the most likely to stick at outside linebacker in a 4-3 rather than play on the line.
How He Helps the Cowboys:Shazier would immediately step in to compete for an outside linebacker spot, most likely as the Will linebacker with Bruce Carter. He ranked third nationally in tackles for loss last season with 22.5, and his ability to quickly knife into the backfield would transition well at that spot with a big defensive end in front of him. Shazier's had some hamstring issues this offseason, which could be somewhat troubling for a Cowboys team filled with them. He didn't record a 40 time at the NFL Combine, but he opened eyes with a 42-inch vertical, 130-inch broad jump and 6.91-second three-cone time in Indianapolis. He ran a sub-4.40 40 time at his Pro Day but may have tweaked the hamstring again there. Still, he demonstrated the tremendous athleticism that'll make him tempting for most teams around the league. If he can stay healthy, he has the potential to star at linebacker. [embedded_ad]
Scout's Take – Bryan Broaddus:He plays as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme for the Buckeyes and can really flow to the ball. Shazier beats blocks with his speed and knows how to knife inside. He can make the tackles in the hole and flows well to the ball in coverage. Needs to be more aware of the receivers behind him in coverage. He needs to find the ball. He can run with the tight end down the middle of the field. When he doesn't play with his hands, he can be punished by the blocker. Did a better job later in the season with that. He can read the outside play well. Shazier worked outside then back inside for the tackle and can redirect. Knows where he fits in the hole.
He tends to be a high tackler in space. Shazier can be physical when he finds the ball. He'll wrap up the ball carrier, but he can deliver a blow in the pocket on the blitz. His speed and quickness really help him here. He can cover some ground, showing a burst when he comes on the blitz. Had a sack against Illinois and caused a fumble off the edge with his hand down. As a down rusher, he can really get off the ball and gets to the corner quickly. He has the mobility to avoid blocks and the quickness to redirect. He can close on the ball in front of him and will attack the pocket on the blitz. Shazier will come off blocks to make tackles. He can slide down the line, be patient and make tackle in hole. Has a nose for ball. He plays with awareness in the running game. Keeps moving. Hard to control. He's able to bring his man down in space. Did a nice job of reading the screen. He has a feel for how to get to the quarterback. When he sees it, he can get there. Doesn't have the best technique in pass coverage, but I really like how this guy is always around the ball. He's a good open field tackler and can really run once he sees it. Have to consider him on the weak side in this scheme. If the idea is to add speed at linebacker, this is your man. He'd be a consideration if they backed up in the first round for sure.