Steelers Rookie Profile: Ryan Shazier

20140509MWHshazierSports02-1In the coming couple of weeks we at Steel City Blitz would like to break down and help introduce Steelers fans to the newest members of the team.

We hope to not just give you some information on what the player has done so far, but more importantly, how they hope to fit into the Steelers’ plans and help this team get back to contention for a Superbowl.

Up first is probably the most controversial pick in the Steelers draft, their first round pick, Ryan Shazier. Shazier was a do it all linebacker for The Ohio State University over the past 3 seasons, that excelled in making stops for a loss in the backfield.

In 2013 he averaged a little over 10 tackles, 1.7 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks per game.

There was some speculation initially on where he would play in Dick Lebeau’s scheme, but I’m fairly confident he’ll play inside next to Timmons. Shazier is way too small to play the edge.

He is listed at 237 pounds which came from his combine weigh in, which I think is being generous. My guess is that Shazier (smartly) bulked for his weigh in and drank a lot of water. I would say he probably played at around 230 lbs.

Kevin Colbert has already said that Shazier has to get bigger and stronger, but the reason the Steelers selected the Ohio State product was his speed.

Steelers great James Farrior famously shed pounds as the season went on, usually playing around 220 pounds by the time the playoffs started… and never had any issues playing the run.

There’s been some questions about Shazier being able to get off blocks at the NFL level, especially without the help of a Casey Hampton in front of him. Those questions are valid.

However, I think that the Steelers see the way the passing game keeps evolving, and would like to transition to a faster defense focused on their sub-packages. Sean Spence was the first attempt at that.

The Steelers played a ton of packages last season with multiple DB’s on the field, including Troy Polamalu in the middle, because Vince Williams was overwhelmed in coverage. That won’t be the case with Shazier, he’ll stay on the field for all 3 downs, and has more than enough athleticism to handle TE’s and RB’s in coverage.

In school Shazier was a seek and destroy type of defender. When he identified his target he went to it quickly, and carried an impressive punch considering his size. He regularly searched out ball carriers making big plays in the backfield.

I expect Shazier to make an impact right away, even if it’s not necessarily as a full time starter. With the depth at the ILB position, I don’t think that last year’s starter Vince Williams has any guarantee to make the roster out of camp.

I see Shazier as a pretty safe pick. He should be a serviceable starter down the road at worst, with the tools to be a great one.

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