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Cowboys Draft 2014: Scouting Ryan Shazier

Because there has been such a high correlation in recent years between the top collegians invited to Valley Ranch for pre-draft visits and who the Cowboys end up drafting, it's important to know as much as possible about these players. As a service to you BTB is providing a series of detailed scouting reports on each of these targets. Today the series continues with our look at Ohio State outside linebacker, Ryan Shazier.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Ryan Shazier

Position: Linebacker (Will)

School: Ohio State

Height: 6’1"

Weight: 237 LBs

Games Studied: Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, Clemson

Measurables vs others at his position:

Note: This spider graph provides a visual representation of a players’ measurable traits, and combine results.  The filled in area of the chart, as well as the number in the light grey circle represents the percentile among the player's peers by position.  A score of 85 here represents that out of every 100 players at his position, the player has a better result in that test than 85 of those 100.

Pass Game:

Ryan Shazier is the prototypical Will LB for a 4-3 scheme, he is fast enough to run with backs and tight ends and plays with enough awareness to get his hands on the ball in the air when the ball is there. He shows the ability when he drops in zone to see what is going on in front of him, and break on the ball/man. When he is in space and he sees the play going out wide, or underneath him he goes after it with intense speed, and for the most part finishes the play well.

Teams made an effort, with some success, to get Shazier out of position by running the bootleg. However, in the Penn State game he was able to get back into coverage, and turn his head to find the deep crosser coming across the field and run with him resulting in a pass break up.

When Ohio State had a big lead in the Penn State game, Shazier was used as a spy or "add" rusher in the dime package. He’d lurk just a few yards off the LOS and wait for a lane to open up to the QB or for the QB to take off, and when he did, it was Shazier’s job to make the play, and his athleticism served him well in that role.

Run Game:

As a "run and hit" linebacker, Shazier is at his best in pursuit from the back side of the play, where he has the opportunity to use his speed to run past the cut off blocker and get in position to make a tackle.  He plays in his opponents backfield often and makes a lot of tackles for loss.  When in position he is able to finish the play with authority and deliver a blow to the RB.

When he does have problems, it is when teams decide to run the ball right at him, especially on a power play or a lead play sending a blocker into his lap.  If that blocker is able to get to him and get his hands on him, he would have some trouble getting off to make the play, and he did get turned at the point as well.  When he did succeed on plays run at him it was his use of quickness and athleticism to get around blocks, but even this is a two sided coin as jumping around blocks can open up other holes in the defense.

Conclusion/Cowboys Projection:

If the Cowboys are indeed ready to give up on Bruce Carter as their Will LB, Shazier would be a very capable replacement at that spot.  He will benefit from playing next to a guy like Sean Lee, and behind a 3 technique like Henry Melton, and the defense will benefit from having his speed and cover ability on the field. He is a three-down player who will make plays from sideline to sideline and in the back field, and with a guy like Lee in the middle he’ll be okay when teams come at him. He’s going to be picked in the first 32 picks, and could be there if the Cowboys choose to trade back into the mid-20s in the first round.

Pro Comparison: LaVonte David, WOLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012 2nd round pick)

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