OLB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
The junior linebacker has the best first step in college football, and he’s proven to be a menace coming off the edge. While Shazier isn’t the big, heavy pass-rusher some teams prefer in a 3-4 set, he’s quick enough and strong enough to shed blockers and still make plays in the run game.
According to Matt Miller (and many others) the biggest need for the Saints is a pass rusher. Even though I also think a defensive player is the right choice in the first round, I’m not 100% in agreement with him: pairing Junior Galette with another young pass-rushing OLB is something the board can address in the second/third round. As I pointed out a month ago here one of the biggest needs for this team is a true No. 2 cornerback to play along with Keenan Lewis, in my opinion.
At 6’2″ – 230 Shazier is often compared to Buccaneers’ linebacker Lavonte David. Shazier leads the Big Ten in tackles and is well-known for his speed that translate in lots of tackles for loss and sacks off the edge. His greatest strength can also became a weakness: sometimes he relies too much upon his speed and doesn’t use pure strength to shad blocks. A bit inconsistent in coverage, he also lacks ideal technique (he needs to improve his tackling) but that’s something Rob Ryan can fix.