The Bengals could be in the market for a linebacker in this year's NFL Draft, and one of the top prospects actually played in the state of Ohio college. That's Ohio State's Ryan Shazier, who was the Buckeyes' leading tackler this season, with his 144 stops and finished third in the nation in tackles. He also finished the season with 23.5 tackles for a loss (also third in the country), seven sacks, four fumbles forced and four passes broken up.
Needless to say, if a team needs a linebacker Shazier is sure to be on their radar. Does that apply to the Bengals though?
Shazier has met with the Eagles, Texans, Bengals, Saints and others.— Matthew Fairburn (@MatthewFairburn) February 23, 2014
Perhaps, and he could fill the role that the Bengals signed James Harrison to fill: A pass-rushing threat from the outside linebacker spot. Harrison failed to provide the team with much of that, and he may even be cut and/or retire this offseason. Depending on what kind of defense Guenther wants to run, having a better threat of a pass rush at linebacker may become more crucial.
Shazier could certainly provide that to a Bengals linebacking corps. that combined for just 10 sacks in 2013 and five in 2012. Shazier has spent the past six weeks at IMG and has placed an emphasis on bulking up. He said he now weighs 233 pounds, after playing at 227 last season:
"He's a very athletic linebacker," IMG director of football operations Chris Weinke said. "He can fly around; he can get into coverage; he can come downhill and fill the hole. I think his body type is going to allow him to do a lot of different things."
At the scouting combine, Shazier weighed-in at 237 pounds, o he's clearly accomplishing his goals there.