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2014 NFL Draft: Why the Cleveland Browns Must Trade Up for Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier
For months, analysts of the 2014 NFL Draft have projected the Cleveland Browns to select a quarterback in the first round. Many have noted that obscene amount of starting passers the Browns have had since returning to the league, and they have made reference to the popular opinions of drafting either Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater to solve that problem.
The notion has not been lost on this writer, the Browns absolutely must solidify the quarterback position. Many have suggested that the position must be addressed by any means necessary, including trading up in the first round to obtain that prospect. To do that, the Browns would likely have to sacrifice their late first-round pick, but the line must be drawn somewhere. That line starts and stops at the No. 26 pick, however.
For the organization to move up from No. 4, they would likely have to sacrifice their No. 26 pick, and possibly even more. For a rebuilding team that is practically void of playmakers, that idea is simply unacceptable. The team must hit on their top three picks by finding difference-makers, and they must use all three to make that necessary impact they are desperate for.
On the other hand, where the team should look to move up, is at No. 26. When they do, the prospect they must have in mind is Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier. The Browns were victimized last season by Craig Robertson, while they said goodbye to D’Qwell Jackson this month, the position must be addressed early.
In 2013, Mike Pettine‘s Buffalo Bills defense utilized a 4-1-6 defense on 170 plays, with the one linebacker being rookie phenom Kiko Alonso. The role is vital in his defense, as evidenced by the likes of Ray Lewis in Baltimore, Bart Scott in New York and Alonso in Buffalo. The team must find that playmaker in this year’s draft, and they are fully expected to do so.
Many mocks have projected the Browns to take C.J. Mosley at No. 26, but more than a few analysts have expressed serious doubts regarding Mosley being available outside the Top 15, so he is essentially unavailable, but fortunately the skill set of Shazier matches that of Alonso much more closely. Shazier is an athletic monster, capable of dropping into coverage just as well as he can rush the passer. Pure and simple, Shazier is a do-it-all gamer, and he projects very well at an inside linebacker position in the NFL.
So, can the Browns obtain him? If you listen to Optimum Scouting or Cincy Jungle, the answer is no. Both sites expect Shazier to go No. 24 to the Cincinnati Bengals. For that reason, the Browns should do everything they can to move up from No. 26 to leapfrog the Bengals for Shazier’s services. The position is just far too valuable to roll the dice on him still being around, because he very likely will not be when Ray Farmer turns in his draft card.
The team has made multiple references to their 2014 vow to be aggressive, tough and physical, and the Buckeye product defines all of those descriptions to perfection. Now the Browns must match his aggressiveness by making a move in this year’s NFL Draft.
The Browns have already expressed interest in him while at the NFL Combine, and if they are as impressed as this writer is, they should act quickly on Day 1 to lock him up.
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