The Green Bay Packers made the playoffs for a fifth straight season last year, but it was a close shave. Aaron Rodgers missed half of the season with a broken collarbone, but Matt Flynn did enough to keep the Packers alive until Rodgers returned in Week 17 to beat Chicago and secure an NFC North crown at 8-7-1.
Still, this is a team with Super Bowl aspirations, and 2013 was a bit of an off year for the Packers. Having Rodgers back and healthy will help, as will improving the team's defense -- which Evan "Tex" Western of Acme Packing Company is attempting to do here in the SB Nation NFL Writers Mock Draft.
|21. Packers||Ryan Shazier, Ohio State||LB||6'1||237||JR|
"With the top two safeties and now the top inside linebacker off the board, this seems like a logical time for Ted Thompson to trade down and acquire an extra draft pick or two. Since that isn't feasible here, I will improve the middle of the defense anyway and add Shazier as an inside linebacker in the Packers' 3-4 defense.
Shazier's speed and athleticism give him the ability to cover tight ends and slot receivers, which is a critical factor for the Packers as they like to keep their inside linebackers on the field in sub packages. Though his size is frequently cited as a concern, Shazier bulked up from around 228 to 237 pounds in the offseason and showed no loss of athleticism or speed at the combine or his pro day. Shazier works best when kept clean of blockers, so the Packers' defensive line will need to occupy their opposing linemen; if they can do so and keep them off of Shazier, his ability to find the ball carrier and close quickly would be a big boost for the Packers' run defense."
Evan went into even further detail explaining the pick over at APC, if you're interested in a deeper explanation of his rationale.
Dan Kadar, our Ohio-native NFL Draft analyst, has some thoughts and opinions to share on the Packers' mock draft pick of Shazier:
Much like C.J. Mosley would be, Shazier would be the perfect complement to A.J. Hawk in the middle of Green Bay's defense. Don't mistake Shazier's listed position as an inability to play inside, either. He lined up in the middle often for Ohio State when the team went in nickel packages. He'll fit fine in a 3-4 and when the Packers shift to having three linebackers instead of four on the field, he can play outside. Shazier is a surprisingly good blitzer, and as mentioned, can cover tight ends and backs in the passing game. The more you pick Shazier apart, the less that flaws can be found. Good choice.
|12||Louis Nix||DT||Notre Dame||6'2||326|
|20||Darqueze Dennard||CB||Michigan State||5'11||199|
|1||21||Green Bay Packers||Ryan Shazier||LB||Ohio State|
|2||53||Green Bay Packers|