Packer Report's R-1 Prediction: Shazier

Is he an inside linebacker? An outside linebacker? Why, yes, he is. If he's available, Ohio State's Ryan Shazier figures to be the Packers' selection as a potential three-down, game-changing weapon. However, will Shazier be available when Green Bay is on the clock at No. 21?

The Green Bay Packers have a need.

A need for speed.

It's a quote from one of the zillion "classic" movies I've never seen, "Top Gun." One of the "classic" songs from that movie is Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone," which the Packers play after the pregame flyover.

What that has to do with anything is beyond me. Chalk it up to a lack of sleep, plenty of Nyquil and about 100 too many draft stories written for and the supersized Packer Report Magazine during the interminable lead-up to the draft, which kicks off with the first round on Thursday night.

The Packers' defense needs another top gun with top speed. When they won the Super Bowl, they had Charles Woodson, Nick Collins and Clay Matthews as dynamic, game-changing playmakers. Collins is stuck at home, waiting for a phone call that's never going to come. Woodson is stuck in Oakland. Enough said. That left Matthews — playing with one hand for most of the season — as the defense's lone top gun. And even Matthews was stuck in the hangar for the playoff game. Is it any wonder why the Packers had no answers for the 49ers on practically all of the key downs?

With a healthy Matthews and a healthy Casey Hayward, the Packers are one dynamic, game-changing playmaker from perhaps challenging Seattle and San Francisco for NFC supremacy.

Might that player be Ohio State's Ryan Shazier?

Shazier would solve the Packers' need for speed. His testing numbers were ridiculous. He ran his 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds. He vertical jumped 42 inches. Never mind being the most athletic linebacker in this year's draft. That goes without saying. He would have been the most athletic defensive back in this year's draft.

All wrapped up in a 6-foot-1, 237-pound package who had 143 tackles — highlighted by six sacks and 22.5 tackles for losses — and four forced fumbles in 2013. He'd be a Swiss Army knife for defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Want a more athletic option at inside linebacker, with Shazier supplanting Brad Jones in the starting lineup and putting Jones and Hawk on the bench on third-and-long? Check. Want an unpredictable third-down pass-rushing package, with Shazier's ability to rush up the middle or off the edge? Check. Want an athletic linebacker to spy the likes of Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson? Check. Need a linebacker with the speed to match up against Vernon Davis deep down the middle or a scatback in the flat? Check.

"Ohio State's Ryan Shazier is such a perfect fit for Green Bay opposite Clay Matthews, that not even Cinderella's glass slipper fits so well," NFL scout Dave-Te' Thomas said in one of his analysis pieces for

Packers coach Mike McCarthy has stated his goal of being more multiple on defense. If placed in a 3-4 scheme, some scouts believe Shazier's best fit is at inside linebacker. Others, including Thomas, say it's at weak-side outside linebacker. With that kind of versatility, the options are practically limitless.

The problem is, what makes Shazier such a great fit for the Packers is what makes him such a great fit for a bunch of other teams. Whether it's a 4-3 or a 3-4, there's a home for Shazier.

ESPN's Mark Dominik, the former Buccaneers general manager, said Shazier is a better player than two linebackers ranked ahead of him by most media pundits — Alabama's C.J. Mosley and UCLA's Anthony Barr. Sources have told Packer Report that the Dolphins don't intend to let Shazier get past their spot at No. 19. Shazier's dad is the Dolphins' team chaplain, so it'd be a natural fit. Dallas, which picks 16th, has Shazier ranked second at outside linebacker behind only Khalil Mack, according to a source.

Of course, this all could be a steaming shovel full of you-know-what meant to entice some team to make a deal. Still, if I were a betting man, I'd lay my money on Shazier not being available for the Packers at No. 21.

So, what is Plan B? Safety HaHa Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor, if either are available? Mosley, another three-down inside linebacker?

Perhaps. However, after numerous conversations, we're going to go straight out of left field with our "Plan B Prediction" on Thursday morning.

Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

Packer Report Top Stories