With Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard falling to the 15th spot in the NFL draft as if it were fate, the Pittsburgh Steelers instead went with Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier. While it was believed that the Steelers would look for a linebacker or two in the draft, it was thought to be much later in the draft.
Shazier brings incredible speed at the linebacker position and right now it looks as though he’ll pair with Lawrence Timmons in the middle.
His speed and athleticism however will allow him to be moved around significantly and will also keep him on the field as a three-down player. He had almost 40 tackles for loss in college and is a consistent disruption to opposing offenses.
His weight might be a bit of an issue because he is listed at about 237 pounds which might be a little on the light side but I have to believe the Steelers will not want to limit his speed and acceleration.
Shazier will not be widely accepted by Steeler Nation initially because of needs at several other positions, but he was clearly the best player available at 15. If you’re the type who constantly screams for the ‘BPA’ then you shouldn’t be upset by this pick.
The down-side however means that the Steelers are putting a tad more pressure on themselves to get picks in the later round correct. With needs at corner, wide receiver, defensive line and in the backfield, those selections now must produce. To add to that point, with Shazier being a first round guy, it will be expected that he gets on the field immediately.
Dick LeBeau and Mike Tomlin cannot afford to have another defensive player sit and watch while playing special teams. If that happens, then the selection of Shazier is a poor one.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard weekly on Trib-Live Radio talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.