Draft Outlook: Ernest Shazor

Seven Wolverines are in attendance at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. And NFL analysts Allen Trieur and Josh Turel are at the Combine as special correspondents for GoBlueWolverine.<br><br> Here Josh's and Allen's draft report on <b>Ernest Shazor<br>.<br>

Draft Outlook: Ernest Shazor

Josh Turel's take:

Positives:

Has size general managers crave, in fact he will be the tallest safety in the entire NFL and only two defensive backs are as tall as he is (Lenny Walls, Denver Broncos, Brandon Browner Oregon St. draft entree). Has the frame to add more bulk if needed or to be moved to outside linebacker. Is at his best in the box where his pursuit angles become easier and his ability to sniff out the run is excellent. Can man up with tight ends and backs pretty well. Has legit straight line speed and works better down hill. Plays with fairly smooth pedal and has some burst out of his up field plant. Big time hitter and a true presence as a 8th man in the box. Solid tackler in the box and is an overall physical player. Has pretty good ball skills and his hands are solid. Has shown very good blitzing ability when used in that manner. Plays well in short area coverage. Has linebacker potential.

Negatives:

While excellent against the run, Shazor has proven to be very marginal in coverage at times. Plays too shallow in Cover 2 and lacks overall range and depth in deep zone coverage. While straight line fast, Shazor lacks the elite change of direction of skills to cover slot receivers and lacks a catch up burst if he's beat deep. Pursuit angles are off when forced to support from a deeper position in the secondary and his open field tackling skills are at times inconsistent. Can be isolated to a mismatch if motion dictates him covering a different receiver. Will blow assignments from time to time and lacks great instincts in coverage and reading ability. Needs some technique work and has struggled down the stretch getting off blocks.

Overall:

If Ernest was entering the league ten years ago, he would be the envy of every GM on the market, but times have changed. Nowadays safeties who can play FS and SS are the most coveted, and with the passing offenses and the most throwing ever in the NFL, front offices have shifted their focus on players who can cover the pass as well as support against the run. There are still some schemes out there which use strong safeties quite a bit in the box and Shazor has upside as a cover man once he fully gets a grasp of it. He has looked ‘off' in the now trendy cover 2 scheme and doesn't have the great reading ability of an Ed Reed or Brian Dawkins, but it will likely come with time. Roy Williams has shown if you hit hard and make plays people will forgive your short comings, example being Roy's lack of elite speed and coverage skills. Don't rule out the possibility of Shazor moving to outside linebacker. I spoke with scouts/player personnel from two teams in the AFC and NFC who will keep an eye on his upside as a backer' and as you may know Cato June and Tommy Hendricks are two past Michigan safeties that have moved to linebacker at the next level. The upside would be his athletic ability, toughness and coverage skills. For a safety his coverage ability is pretty average but stick him at linebacker and they look much better because linebackers usually can't cover nearly as well as safeties. From what I'm hearing from scouts and player personnel down here, Shazor grades out around a late 2nd, early 3rd round pick in pre-workouts. His senior-season performances starting with MSU and ending against Texas hurt him significantly and cost him 1st round money. It's a pretty weak year for safeties with a lot of top heavy prospects, so I don't see Shazor falling out of the 1st day; he's got too much potential for GM's to pass up. With some legit workouts, look for him to slide up back into the mid 2nd round and go to either the Packers, Bengals, or Texans all who need help at strong safety and wouldn't mind another linebacker project.

NFL Comparison:

As a safety I would say think Shaun Williams (Giants), Tank Williams (Titans) and Adrian Wilson (Cards). All are bigger safeties who play their best in the box and average against the pass. As a linebacker think Tommy Polley (Rams), Na'il Diggs (Packers) or a poor man's Keith Bulluck (Titans). All are tall, very athletic and slightly under-bulked players for their position.

Allen Trieu's take:

Positives:

Ernest is excellent in the box. He is best when he is free to roam in run support or on the blitz. He is a sure tackler, often tackling low and taking away the ball carrier's legs. He shows great strength and hitting ability and is an intimidating presence to receivers coming across the middle. He offers the size and athleticism to match up one on one with tight ends, although this is an assignment he did not often have at Michigan.

Negatives:

Where he struggles is in space. He can be a bit stiff in changing directions and more elusive players can make him miss in the open field. He will sometimes take poor angles when approaching a play, although he takes better angles when in pursuit. In coverage he tends to get a little lost with his assignment and will get caught looking in the backfield a bit. He doesn't have the pure speed to play deep in a cover 2. He has good hands though and will make the interceptions where they are there.

Overall:

I look for Ernest to prosper in the NFL. He did have a rougher second half to the season but I think he has skills that teams can take advantage of and put him in good positions to make plays. I felt as though some of his troubles the later part of his junior season were due to him being put in disadvantageous situations to his strengths. If he can be allowed to play in the box and stop the run and be matched up in coverage with backs and tight ends and not have to play too much in space, I believe Shazor could have a very good NFL career. He should also be a good special teams guy. Right now, I have him projected to the New England Patriots at the end of Round 2 as he could be their Rodney Harrison of the future. He could go a little earlier or a little later than that depending on workouts; how well he runs and how well he performs in agility drills will be key.

NFL Comparison:

An oversized safety who is almost like an extra linebacker yet agile enough to make plays in coverage, much like Tennessee's Tank Williams.

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For Scout.com's Combine Stories: Weights and Heights and Live wire feed, etc., go to: NFLDraftExperts.com's Combine Stories: Weights and Heights and Live wire feed.

For the NFL Draft order, player rankings, plus full coverage of the Combine, go to: TheNFLDraftExperts.com.

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The Combine Week Schedule (from MGoBlue.com):

Following is the NFL Network's daily schedule of workouts of the two-hour daily window:

Feb. 26 -- Offensive Linemen, Running Backs
Feb. 27 -- Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers, Running Backs
Feb. 28 -- Tight Ends, Defensive Linemen
March 1 -- Linebackers, Defensive Backs

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