INDIANAPOLIS — Ryan Shazier came to Ohio State as a linebacker in a cornerback’s body, with less than 200 pounds spread across his 6-foot-1 frame.
Even as he became a star in Columbus, the question loomed: Could a player so undersized hang with the Goliaths of the NFL — and, if he did heap on the pounds, would he still maintain his extraordinary speed and power? Or, as Shazier said, would it be "sloppy weight?"
This week at the NFL scouting combine, those questions were no longer hypothetical.
In a showing that could push him into the first round of the May draft, Shazier impressed league executives by arriving at 237 pounds — about 15 more than he weighed last season — then snared attention in his workouts.
Though Shazier did not run the 40-yard dash Monday because of a strained hamstring, he recorded a combine-best 42-inch vertical leap, his broad jump (10-foot, 10 inches) and time in the three-cone agility drill (6.91 seconds) ranked among the top linebacker performances, and his 25 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press matched the 10-year combine averages of ... offensive tackles.
"I like where I'm at right now at 237," said Shazier, who has spent the past six weeks training with ex-OSU left tackle and St. John’s Jesuit graduate Jack Mewhort at the IMG academy in Bradenton, Fla.
"If I can gain a little more, that would probably help. But as of right now, I feel exactly the same. I don't feel like I can hurt my speed."
Shazier decided to bypass his senior season at OSU despite receiving a second-round grade from the draft advisory committee.
But he fits the archetype of the workout warrior who could see his value rise at the combine. Shazier believes he compares favorably to Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David, another versatile outside linebacker once thought too small for the NFL. The 6-1, 233-pound Nebraska graduate was a first-team all-pro in his second season with the Buccaneers last year.
"I felt like right now is the best time to come out [of college]," said Shazier, a first-team Associated Press All-American after piling up 134 tackles last season. "I didn't have any serious injuries, and I feel like I had a successful season. If I want to become a great player, I have to play against the best."
EXTRA POINTS: Former Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde’s bid to run his way into the first round took a hit. After vowing to run a sub-4.5-second 40, the 6-foot, 230-pounder timed in at 4.66 seconds and pulled up with a strained left hamstring. Hyde, a projected second-round pick, will have another chance at Ohio State’s pro day on March 7. ... David Fluellen did not time as he hoped, either. The former University of Toledo star ran a 4.72 — 27th among the 33 running backs at the combine. ... Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix has heard all the jokes. The worst part about his nickname? "The whole President Clinton thing with Monica Lewinsky," he said, laughing. "I didn't know too much about that." Clinton-Dix, a likely first-round pick, is named Ha’Sean but picked up the handle HaHa from his grandmother when he was 3.