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Strong linebacker play has been the key to the Bears' success throughout the team's history. Bill George, Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher all come to mind when thinking of the Chicago Bears defense.
After the departure and retirement of Urlacher last offseason, the team went with a veteran lineup at linebacker: James Anderson on the strong side, D.J. Williams in the middle and Lance Briggs on the weak side.
Injuries decimated the Bears defense as a whole last year, with both Williams and Briggs missing significant time. The team was forced to use rookies Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene as their starters, and both struggled to adapt to the NFL game.
There is still hope for both Bostic and Greene to continue to develop, but the team needs to continue to add youth and depth, and Ohio State's Ryan Shazier could help bolster that linebacking group.
Shazier had an impressive 42-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot, 10-inch broad jump at the NFL Scouting Combine but was hampered by a hamstring injury and was unable to run the 40-yard dash.
Earlier this month he was able to impress scouts with an impressive 40-yard time.
According to USA Today's Jim Corbett, NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks told him, "Ryan is always the model of what you're looking for at the linebacker position. Ryan is very fast, super athletic and has that positional versatility you look for. He can cover tight ends but also rush off the edge."
His strong combine and pro day numbers help solidify him being a first-round pick, and he has the flexibility to play either the strong side or the weak side in a 4-3 defense. He may not be an option at No. 14 for the Bears, but he would be worth a look if they can trade down in the first round.