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Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier receives second-round draft grade

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Jeff Haynes/Associated Press
Ohio State's Ryan Shazier is among the top outside linebacker prospects in college football.

Ohio State junior linebacker Ryan Shazier, one of the most productive players in the nation at his position, received a second-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, he told the Toledo Blade on Monday.

Shazier leads Ohio State is tied for sixth nationally with 134 tackles. He also has 22.5 tackles for loss, six sacks, four forced fumbles, four pass breakups and six quarterback hurries. It's his second season in a row with at least 100-plus tackles, 17-plus tackles for loss five sacks and three forced fumbles.

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And no one questions his speed: He has been clocked as fast as 4.47 in the 40 and generally is in the low 4.5s. He might be the fastest linebacker in the nation.

So with that kind of production and that kind of speed, why a second-round grade? It's his size -- or lack thereof. Shazier is listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, and he might be both shorter and lighter.

NFL Media analyst Charles Davis wrote that while Shazier is on the small side, he also is "a disruptive, run-and-chase weakside linebacker who can take on blocks and knows how to slip them well."

Shazier said earlier this month that he was "leaning toward staying" in school and that he would meet with coaches and family to discuss his decision after Friday's Orange Bowl with Clemson.

If he decides to stay in school, he should be a consensus preseason All-America next fall and would be the best player in an Ohio State front seven that likely would be among the nation's two or three best. Thing is, he's not going to get taller, though he obviously could add some weight. The question in that scenario is whether he can keep his speed -- and whether scouts would downgrade him if he were to run a bit slower.

Shazier never is going to be a physical thumper in the middle; what he might be is a playmaking force on the outside who can both rush the passer and drop into coverage with equal aplomb, all the while also able to run sideline to sideline.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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