The 2014 first round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers had high expectations. Expectations that weren’t met.
Injuries had taken their toll on him. One could argue he was doing well before then.
During Week One against Cleveland, he recorded 6 tackles and 1 pass defensed. In the Baltimore game afterward, he had 11 total tackles. He was injured at the Carolina game a week later.
Those numbers aren’t bad at all, considering he was a rookie. As a matter of fact, that’s pretty good even for a veteran player. At times during training camp and the preseason it seemed as if he was making his fair share of splash plays.
During the preseason game vs. Buffalo, he recorded an interception against EJ Manuel, even running it back a few yards. He diagnosed the play, read the quarterback’s eyes, and didn’t relent.
Shazier certainly has left much to be desired. He is by no means anywhere near a finished product, though that should go without saying.
Yet, it’s obvious Shazier has game-changing abilities that we’ve only seen glimpses of.
There are people who criticize the Steelers for drafting Shazier instead of CJ Mosley, the Baltimore Raven who’s made quite a name for himself this year. But there’s a reason why Pittsburgh took Shazier: he’s a more special player.
Not only does he have a blazing 4.37 40 time, he seems to have an intangible ability that places him at a high level. Something the Steelers saw in Shazier that they didn’t see in Mosley.
People who already write off Shazier as a bust don’t know much about the situation at hand. It is unfair to judge a player’s season by the games he didn’t play.
Of course, he wasn’t the same after coming back from his injuries. They slowly brought him along to get him accustomed to regular game speed. But anyone who expected more was being a bit too optimistic; a bit foolish. No one is ever really 100% after an injury.
Yet despite all the setbacks, I believe Ryan Shazier will make the leap this upcoming season. All the arrows are definitely pointing up with him.
Now that he has a full year under his belt, he has the experience and the knowledge that comes with it.
Shazier is poised to prove people wrong. He’s ready to show his worth and reveal to the City of Pittsburgh that he is a cornerstone and an anchor along the defensive side. Once he takes the challenge by the reins, there’s no looking back.
stats are courtesy of steelers.com