Well, now there's a new twist on that. David, who made All-Pro, is becoming the standard of comparison.
"My favorite linebacker is Patrick Willis, but I feel like I tend to play like Lavonte David a lot," Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier said during a break in his combine training at IMG Academy earlier this week. "Coming into the NFL, he was a smaller type linebacker. He's quick and he's tough and he can do anything you ask him to do. I feel like I can do the same thing."
If Shazier is anything like David, he'll make a heck of a pro. But, just like David, who some thought was too small coming out of college, Shazier will have to clear one big obstacle.
"I want to go to the combine and show people I'm not too small," Shazier said.
Shazier has spent the past six weeks at IMG and has placed an emphasis on bulking up. He said he now weighs 233 pounds, after playing at 227 last season.
"He's a very athletic linebacker," IMG director of football operations Chris Weinke said. "He can fly around; he can get into coverage; he can come downhill and fill the hole. I think his body type is going to allow him to do a lot of different things."
Where will Shazier end up in the draft? The gurus are saying he'll be taken somewhere in the first two rounds. Although they already have David, the Bucs could give Shazier a look. They have a need at strongside linebacker, and it remains uncertain whether the new staff is sold on middle linebacker Mason Foster.
"The way our defense was at Ohio State, a lot of times, I was ending up in the middle," Shazier said. "I think I can do everything. I can go in the box; I can go sideline to sideline; I can blitz; and I can cover pretty well. I feel like I'm a three-down backer.