2014 Mock Draft: SBNation Projects Green Bay Packers to Pick ILB Ryan Shazier

Jamie Sabau

The Packers are projected to take a 4-3 linebacker prospect in SBNation's latest mock draft, as most of the players who would be ideal fits for the defense are off the board by the 21st pick.

That we've moved another week into January means that the draft preparation for NFL teams has taken another step forward. That also goes for mock drafts, and SBNation's Matthew Fairburn put out a new one Monday morning.

With the Packers now locked into the 21st spot in the draft, we are seeing a number of the desirable defensive playmakers starting to go in the teens, leaving the draft writers to choose players who either have substantial flaws or who are not ideal fits for the Packers' defense. In the case of this week's mock, I believe that the latter is more the case as the Packers are projected to take a 4-3 linebacker and move him inside:

21. Green Bay Packers - Ryan Shazier, Linebacker, Ohio State: A.J. Hawk isn't a bust by any means; he's just been an ordinary player over the last few years, and Green Bay's run defense has struggled because of it. Some might not think Ryan Shazier can play inside in a 3-4, but if he puts on a bit of weight, his speed will be a weapon for a defense that can use all the speed it can get at inside linebacker.

By most accounts, Shazier's best fit would be as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense. He played on the weak side at Ohio State in that system. However, remember that Hawk himself was a weak-side 4-3 linebacker and made the transition inside (though his effectiveness there will continue to be argued). Shazier certainly is a willing tackler with great physical tools (which our colleagues at Behind the Steel Curtain analyzed) and has a knack for finding the football. He's undersized, though, being listed at 225 pounds, and would absolutely need to bulk up to deal with blockers in the inside in a 3-4.

If you're curious about where some other players of interest landed or the projected picks by Green Bay's divisional rivals, here are a few names and projected draft positions:

QB Blake Bortles: #8 (Vikings)
WR Sammy Watkins: #10 (Lions)
S Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix: #11 (Titans)
ILB C.J. Mosley: #12 (Giants)
DT Ra'Shede Hageman: #14 (Bears)
DT Stephon Tuitt: #17 (Cowboys)
TE Eric Ebron: #18 (Jets)
TE Jace Amaro: #29 (Patriots)

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