With The 15th Pick, The Steelers Select ….
If you’re a Steeler fan, the glamour pic in the first round would always have to be the Middle Linebacker position. The Steelers are the Gold Standard for Linebacker play in the NFL, defining the position with Hall Of Fame players like Jack Lambert and Jack Ham, right on through to players like Levon Kirkland, Joey Porter, and James Harrison, to name a few. After the departures of James Farrior and Larry Foote, the Middle Linebacker position was in desperate need of a new face, and last night at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Steelers filled that need. Ohio State Linebacker Ryan Shazier is now a Pittsburgh Steeler, he will come into camp and compete for the starting job along with Vinnie Williams, Arthur Moats, and Sean Spence. If Shazier is as good a pic in the first round as was Lawrence Timmons, all indications point toward the Defense getting back to that bad ass, don’t think you can run, pass, or score on us style of play.
Shazier is a dynamic player, he aggressive and very athletic with a nose for the football. The thing that impresses me most about Shazier is he has a clear understanding of his role on the Defense, and what the Defense is supposed to do, stop whomever has the ball. He has keen skills in coverage, when he picks off a pass it’s either in stride, or once he makes the catch he is moving south just as quick. His role on the Buckeyes should translate nicely to the Black & Gold, particularly with respect to stunt blitzes, goal line stances, and his lateral movement should serve us well with stopping the run. Though I try to avoid getting too excited about Rookies, regardless of position, based on Shazier College performance, he should fit the Steelers system hand in glove. The biggest upside in this pick is that Shazier will join a relatively young group of players in the Linebacker corp, Lawrence Timmons is a savvy veteran who is just hitting his stride, sophomore outside phenom Jarvis Jones, and fourth year pro Jason Worilds. I’m sensing a group that could potentially be on par with the mid ’90’s Steelers, Levon Kirkland, Chad Scott, Greg Loyld and Kevin Greene.
If you’re Ryan Shazier, the world is your oyster, the opportunity is there for the taking if you want it. He will certainly have a wealth of influence, coaching, and tradition to draw from. It should be great competition in camp between himself, Vinnie Williams, and the others who are vying for the starting Middle Linebacker position. One starting position he will be guaranteed is on special teams, I fully suspect him to make an immediate impact, he definitely knows how to get the ball carrier on the ground and has excellent speed and very keen instincts for breaking on the ball carrier while maintaining position to make the pLay.