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LB Shazier intriguing prospect for Saints

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; (Mike Triplett) If we're ranking the New Orleans Saints' top needs in the draft based on where they could use the most immediate help, then the top three are probably center, wide receiver and cornerback. The need at center is ...

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Old 04-08-2014, 09:44 AM   #1
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LB Shazier intriguing prospect for Saints

(Mike Triplett)

If we're ranking the New Orleans Saints' top needs in the draft based on where they could use the most immediate help, then the top three are probably center, wide receiver and cornerback.

The need at center is obvious in the wake of Brian De La Puente's departure. Meanwhile, a first-round draft pick at receiver or cornerback could step in right away in a rotational role while being developed as a future starter.

That's why cornerbacks like Jason Verrett, Kyle Fuller and Bradley Roby and receivers like Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee make a lot of sense as possible Saints targets.

However, when it comes to New Orleans' long-term future, the linebacker position isn't far behind.

The Saints will eventually need to replace veterans like David Hawthorne and Parys Haralson. And in the meantime, they could really use a dynamic athlete to rotate into the mix in that spot.

After the 2013 season, I chatted with ESPN scouting analyst Matt Williamson about how much the Saints could benefit from their own version of NFC South studs like Tampa Bay's Lavonte David and Carolina's Thomas Davis -- guys who can chase down speed backs in the open field, cover running backs and tight ends in the passing game and occasionally blitz.

That's why I find myself gravitating toward Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier as a top prospect for the Saints with their 27th pick in Round 1 of the draft.

The Saints primarily run a 3-4 defense under Rob Ryan, so Shazier isn't an ideal fit on the surface. He's not really a pass-rushing outside linebacker, and he's a bit small for a traditional 3-4 inside linebacker at 6-foot-1, 237 pounds.

But as we've learned about Ryan, he's about as versatile and multiple as any defensive coordinator in the league. Give him a playmaker, and he'll find room for him (see: Kenny Vaccaro).

Shazier is certainly a playmaker. He ranked among the top three players in the country last year with both 144 tackles and 23.5 tackles-for-loss, in addition to seven sacks and four forced fumbles. He was reportedly timed at a blazing 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash at Ohio State's pro day.

And ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said, "You can make an argument he's one of the best 10 football players in this draft just on being a pure, instinctive football player."

Shazier's dimensions are almost identical to those of David and Davis -- and to former Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, for that matter. And the one knock on Shazier's scouting report is the same one that always stuck to Vilma: that he has trouble shedding blockers at times.

But everything else on Shazier's scouting report is extremely tantalizing.

"I love Shazier," Kiper said when I asked him if Shazier could fit in the Saints' defensive scheme. "It's just where is the best scheme fit? [He is] a guy that I think is a 4-3 outside linebacker but can play inside in the right scheme in a 3-4. And he could possibly, as you say, be that run-around chase athletic guy who can do so much with that 4.39 speed and that incredible athleticism."

That includes dropping back in pass coverage, Kiper affirmed.

"Yeah, Shazier's a tremendous athlete who can do everything you want," Kiper said. "The only thing he lacks is the kind of size you look for as a 3-4 inside linebacker. And he might not be an elite pass rusher, but he can certainly close and chase and pursue and do all the things you want. Heck of a football player."

Alabama's C.J. Mosley is another tantalizing athlete at the inside linebacker position. But Kiper said he doesn't expect him to fall far enough for the Saints to have a shot at him.

Kiper also mentioned Auburn pass-rusher Dee Ford as the kind of athlete that could fit the Saints as an outside linebacker. Kiper has paired Ford with the Saints in each of his past two mock drafts. Although Ford (6-foot-2, 252) played defensive end in college, he projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker. And he some experience dropping back in coverage, though it's not his specialty.

Kiper also mentioned Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu as a pass rushing outside linebacker -- though he is generally considered more of a second-round prospect. Attaochu has 22 sacks over the past two years and probably fits best as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

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Old 04-08-2014, 09:49 AM   #2
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Re: LB Shazier intriguing prospect for Saints

i've like this pick for a while.

Fast. Instinctive. Versatile. Confident.

Reminds me of a Vaccaro type LB which Rob Ryan should be able to move all over the field.
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Old 04-08-2014, 09:53 AM   #3
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Re: LB Shazier intriguing prospect for Saints

42" vertical

Can cover TE's like a blanket.
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:47 AM   #4
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Re: LB Shazier intriguing prospect for Saints

I would like either Ford or Shazier with our first pick. I'm pretty stuck on those two.
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:57 AM   #5
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Re: LB Shazier intriguing prospect for Saints

Originally Posted by papz View Post
I would like either Ford or Shazier with our first pick. I'm pretty stuck on those two.
I'd rather Dee Ford over Shazier; he projects as the better 3-4 OLB... Shazier would be the better 4-3 OLB and would have to pack a few pounds on for the 3-4 (15 or so)
It would be ideal if the junior could add 10-15 pounds before going pro. Shazier would be best off in the NFL as a Will (weakside) linebacker in a 4-3 defense. He could play on the inside of some 3-4 defenses.
While Ford is very explosive off the edge, he isn't big enough to remain at defensive end in the NFL. Ford will have to move to outside linebacker. In a 4-3 defense, he would have to play as a linebacker who rushes off the edge in passing situations, similar to Von Miller in Denver. Ford projects best as an edge rusher for a 3-4 defense.

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Old 04-08-2014, 12:00 PM   #6
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Re: LB Shazier intriguing prospect for Saints

I still think Shazier is too crazy with his body, the way he hits to last very long in the pros.
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Old 04-08-2014, 02:06 PM   #7
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Re: LB Shazier intriguing prospect for Saints

They said Shazier wasn't really a perfect match for the 3-4 but that Rob Ryan could use him to his strengths. That's great. What happens in a year or two when Ryan gets offerred a head coaching job?

We are just starting to get filled in with the experience and talent to run a 3-4. We don't need to keep moving players to new positions. Find a stud who already plays the position.
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Old 04-08-2014, 03:52 PM   #8
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Re: LB Shazier intriguing prospect for Saints

Mosley would be a great upgrade to our LB group . His ability to cover ,rush , and fill . Top intangibles ,leader. LB tend to fall and Mosley is trending down. He might even be worth trading up for . IMHO a future pro bowler .
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Old 04-08-2014, 04:11 PM   #9
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Re: LB Shazier intriguing prospect for Saints

I like Shazier a lot but IMO our first-round pick should be something we really need, not a luxury pick. I know everybody always says BPA, but as deep as this year's draft is, we could almost certainly pick a player at a position of need and be fairly certain he would turn out well.
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Old 04-08-2014, 04:33 PM   #10
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Re: LB Shazier intriguing prospect for Saints

Originally Posted by Jack Vegas View Post
I like Shazier a lot but IMO our first-round pick should be something we really need, not a luxury pick. I know everybody always says BPA, but as deep as this year's draft is, we could almost certainly pick a player at a position of need and be fairly certain he would turn out well.
ILB is a big need for the Saints, especially one who can cover.
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