30 for 29: This is the seventeenth in a daily series of looks at 30 prospects the Patriots may consider selecting with the 29th overall pick at the 2014 NFL Draft.
Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
6-1, 237 pounds, 9/6/92
2013: 134 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks, 4 forced fumbles
A true junior, Shazier was a first-team AP All-American and a Butkus Award finalist. Led Ohio State in tackles in his junior and sophomore seasons, joining James Laurinaitis, A.J. Hawk, Chris Spielman and Pepper Johnson as the only players to do so. A Florida native, Shazier originally was going to play for Urban Meyer at Florida but settled on Ohio State after Meyer resigned from the Gators. Wound up playing for Meyer anyway.
TO THE GOOD
Played in every game the past two seasons. Had Combine-best performances among linebackers in the vertical jump (42 inches), broad jump (130 inches) and three-cone drill (6.91 seconds) showing how explosive he is and how quickly he can change direction and accelerate. Good hitter, great range, can cover and pursue.
TO THE BAD
Will probably need to fill out a little more at the NFL level to stand up to the rigors of bigger blockers coming at him. Plays best in attack mode and did sometimes have his aggressiveness used against him.
Shazier would be a very nice addition because the Patriots don’t really have a player who can be a coverage linebacker with the same speed (4.4 40) that Shazier has, although Jerod Mayo is extremely fast when he lets it loose. Mayo is so much the defensive quarterback, he doesn’t often get cut loose, though and Shazier could be allowed to run wild. Jamie Collins, last year’s second-rounder, showed his coverage skills late last year but he’s also a promising pass rusher. If Donta Hightower – who closed last year on a high – were to come off the field on third downs (he’s 270), a group of Mayo, Collins and Shazier would be dauntingly fast to play against. Shazier is going to be a first-round pick and may be gone before 29, though.
Charles Davis, NFL.com - No. 30 to San Francisco
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com - No. 31 to Denver