Shazier mulling NFL decision

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Shazier Mulling NFL Decision
By Rob Ogden

Junior linebacker Ryan Shazier is seen by most as a sure-fire NFL first-round pick should he decide to forgo his senior season at Ohio State, something most analysts assumed he would do. But not so fast, Shazier said Friday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

“Right now I'm dead flat in the middle,” he said, speaking for the first time since last Saturday, when the Buckeyes lost 34-24 to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. “I don't know what I'm going to do. If I would say anything, I'm probably leaning towards staying, so I don't know what I'm doing right now. I'm just really focusing on this game right now.”

Ryan Shazier
Photo by Jim Davidson
Ryan Shazier

Shazier leads the Big Ten with 134 total tackles this season and is ranked by Scouts Inc. as one of the top five draft-eligible players at his position.

CBSSports.com draft expert Rob Rang recently told The Ozone that he sees Shazier as a first-round pick, and that he expects Shazier to enter the 2014 draft.

"Instinctive, athletic, explosive," Rang said, describing Shazier. "He's demonstrated those things throughout his career and has improved throughout his career. He's one of the better looking linebackers in this class whether it be as a senior or underclassman."

The 6-foot-2, 230 pound Shazier also led the league with 20 tackles for loss and was named a first-team All-American by USA Today.

Dane Brugler, also of CBSSports.com, said Shazier might be able to improve himself with another year in Columbus, but added that the opportunity to be a first-round pick is tough to pass up.

"He is a first-round caliber player right now," Brugler said. "He is so athletic for the position with the closing speed, range and explosive traits that make him an impressive space player. But he’s not a flawless prospect, because there are questions about his ability to shed once engaged at the line of scrimmage and he does have lapses in coverage, but the natural tools are what NFL teams seek at linebacker."

In their latest mock drafts, Rang projected Shaizer to be selected by Detroit with the No. 19 pick, and Brugler mocked him to Arizona at No. 23.

Shazier and the rest of the Buckeyes are preparing to face Clemson in the Orange Bowl Jan. 3. He said the fact that the team came up short of its goal of a national championship won't factor into his decision.

“I'm just going to talk it over with my family and coaches and try to get the best analysis I can so when I do make my decision it will be the best decision for me. The coaches say what's best for me and my family is what's best for them.” Shazier said.

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