Ohio State Buckeyes star linebacker Ryan Shazier will forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft, according to Sports Illustrated reporter Pete Thamel. Quarterback Braxton Miller and tight end Jeff Heuerman, both NFL prospects as well, will return to the school.
SOURCE: Ohio State's Shazier leaving for the NFL. QB Miller and TE Heuerman will return for Sr. year. http://t.co/VOIHFPOPBP
— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) January 4, 2014
Shazier was the Buckeyes' leading tackler this season, with his 144 stops well ahead of second-place C.J. Barnett's 84, 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.
Our own Mocking the Draft has Shazier going 31st, to the Denver Broncos, in their latest mock draft.
31. Denver Broncos: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Wesley Woodyard is a free agent after this season, and it would not only be more cost-efficient to add Shazier, but he's a better player in general. Shazier may not be able to take on the most powerful of blockers, but he has the speed to make plays sideline to sideline and is a deceptively good pass rusher from the middle.
In their Top 100 rankings, Mocking the Draft rated Shazier as the 16th-best prospect in the draft, with Miller and Heuerman unlisted.
Miller had 36 total touchdowns this season and suffered through injuries, while Heuerman was third on the team with 26 catches for 466 yards.