Oct 6, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Ryan Shazier (10) celebrates in the first quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Shazier Will Start Faster Than Most Steelers Draft Picks


New Pittsburgh Steelers Linebacker Ryan Shazier’s ascent to Sunday starter could be much quicker than that of Lawrence Timmons.

Seven years ago in Mike Tomlin’s first draft, the Steelers selected a speedy, instinctual linebacker with the 15th pick of the NFL Draft. Last night, they did the same thing. Like Timmons in 2007, it’s not crystal clear where Shazier fits best in the Steelers’ 3-4 front, but the path could be easier for the 2014 pick.

One instant impact Shazier could have is in a sub-package that saw a lot of use in 2013. Last year, we saw Troy Polamalu stepping into the box in a linebacker position and Vince Williams coming off the field. Shazier’s skill set fits such situations well. He has excellent pursuit and vision. There is no question concerning his athleticism as he ran a sub 4.4 forty yard dash prior to the draft.

Typically, Steeler’s defenders have a hard time seeing the field as rookies. The incumbent starter next to Timmons is Vince Williams, so Shazier will be provided with every opportunity to win that job. Williams is a serviceable two-down backer that becomes a liability in coverage. Shazier’s abilities should shine on third downs. As opposed to facing veterans entrenched at the inside spots, as were Larry Foote and James Farrior in 2007, Shazier merely has to outshine a 2013 6th round pick who ended up being a pleasantly surprising stop-gap. 

Once he does find a regular spot on that 3-4 defense, as every first round pick must, he should be inside next to Timmons. Dick LeBeau is licking his chops at the thought of the fire zone blitzes that he could run with such athleticism and rush ability on the inside. 

Another place that Shazier will shine is in kick coverage. There is no doubt that he should be a day one contributor in every aspect of special teams. It will be easy for Shazier to become the team’s leading tackler on special teams.

The Steelers must love the idea of Lawrence Timmons being the elder statesman of a young athletic group of Jarvis Jones, Jason Worilds, and Ryan Shazier.

 

Tags: Pittsburgh Steelers Ryan Shazier

  • SDAZT.STEEL66

    Wax poetic about Shazier’s 40 time all you want, but shedding blocks, possessing the strength to do so, and flowing to the ball & diagnosing plays are also important parts about being an ILB in any defense. 4.4 speed means nothing in the middle if Shazier is eclipsed every time an offensive guard gets his mitts on him.

    • Justin Roem

      No doubt Shazier will have to prove that he can withstand the big bodies of NFL lines–he can just ask Jarvis Jones about that struggle–but his athleticism gives him a high ceiling and gives the Steelers a good option for their sub packages right off the bat. We’ll have to get back into this draft and help the defensive line so they can keep the bodies off the athletes behind them.

    • OVP66223

      From the NFL scouting report:

      “Agile to slip blocks. Quick, strong hands to shed.”

      Ease up SDAZT, Shazier will have little problem being an impact LB. It wasn’t like Foote or Williams could shed blocks well, they were too darn slow to get away from an OL. Shazier is as strong and much, much quicker and more agile (he’ll get blocked less to begin with…that is important).

      • SDAZT.STEEL66

        When Heinz Field turn into a bog in the winter months, I’ll be interested to see how his speed holds up w/o the necessary strength to disengage blockers who are faster, more agile and more technically sound than the normal plodding Big 10 OL.

    • Bill Kniess

      since when is a ILB supposed to engage a lineman? If you let that happen your slow or dumb or both.

      • SDAZT.STEEL66

        When Heinz Field turn into a bog in the winter, I’ll be interested to see how his speed holds up w/o the necessary strength to disengage blockers who are faster, more agile and more technically sound than the normal plodding Big 10 OL.

        • Bill Kniess

          they get faster in the muck? And in that weather we don’t need to worry about the deep route and db coverage…especially when we have 2 power backs…

          • SDAZT.STEEL66

            No but the OL are of better quality & better than the garbage churned out of the bIg 10 every year. Shazier will be a target in the run game this fall, and he had better get ready to be stout at the point of attack. Also, of the Steelers are going ground-n-pound this fall & playing 1981-style football, I hope you enjoy another 8-8 or less season.

          • Bill Kniess

            I do recall the Giants with a couple big backs. It was not 1981. And I’m not saying Shazier can do it alone. But this isn’t a run league. Who scares you offensively? A team with an athletic TE. Who scores. N.O. San Fran. Dallas NE.

          • SDAZT.STEEL66

            Those teams scare me definitely, and I wish Todd Haley got the memo on using “12″ personnel where both the TEs are athletic weapons in the passing game. However, in a game of matchups, Shazier will be targeted when he is in the game via the ground, especially if Pittsburgh’s D-Line cannot eat up blockers like they failed to do last year when they left Timmons & Williams hanging out to dry.

            Plus, who is to say that the skinny Shazier isn’t out-muscled for jump balls and is unable to re-route the TEs who will almost always enjoy a size advantage?

            I’m definitely interested to see how he will fare, but those are some serious things to worry about when it comes to him as a prospect.

          • Bill Kniess

            so you what….you take a Tuitt in Rd.2 If the big guy drafted rd.6 can be taught decent technique to go with being an aircraft carrier in size….problem? Like i said Shazier isn’t your whole team.

            re: Willis being drafted
            “Willis isn’t a pass rusher, he’s more of a pure linebacker. The 49ers would likely have him play “in space” meaning they would like to position him behind a defensive lineman so he could run free and make a lot of tackles. He has great speed (4.38), reads offenses well and loves to tackle. The one red flag could be his his ability to shed blockers, which is in question.”

            mmm..shedding blockers is in ? Guess not so much.

            Graham and Davis can run a sub 4.5 40..even a slow guy like Whitten is good for a 4.6-4.7. And they know where they are going…so I want a LB that can stay with them. Not too many QB that want to throw one up if a guy has someone sticking to them.

          • SDAZT.STEEL66

            Aww…someone can cut and paste. Lol.

            You neglected to mention the caliber of DL which Willis has had in front of him in SF which allow him to make plays in space in their defensive scheme. If the DL can’t hold up and play heady two-gap football in Pittsburgh, Shazier will be at the mercy of plenty of bigger and better OL, the likes of which he never saw in the Big 10.

            Also, don’t put all of your eggs into the Tuitt & McCullers baskets just yet. Tuitt’s work-ethic, pad level and weight remain huge question marks, while McCullers is at least two years away from being a significant contributor. Plus, name me the last rookie 5-tech to do anything of significance during their rookie campaigns in Pittsburgh under LeBeau? Please, I await that answer.

            So much of an ILB’s success in a 3-4 scheme is derived from the play of the DL and their ability to man two-gaps at the point of attack. If they are unable to do so, it doesn’t matter how athletic Shazier is, his ability to play in space will be greatly limited if the DL does not improve and follow through with their specific assignments to let him run free. In a perfect world, especially in LeBeau’s defensive scheme, ILBs don’t have to shed blockers and Shazier will be a defensive weapon if his DL comes through and is allowed to play in space.

            However, if the DL can’t do their job, they are in fact forced to shed blocks from oncoming and free offensive linemen who aren’t forced to tangle with his teammates and will be more than willing to drive him out of a play. Thus, your notion of any ILB not having to shed blocks at all, ever, is a downright joke since not even the best DLs can follow through on every snap. Even though it is schematically designed to not happen, it occurs when the DL cannot do their jobs.

            Also, speed is nice in coverage, but means very little when he can be outmuscled for jump-balls and boxed out by more physical tight ends like Graham and Witten who have significant size and height advantages. Also, who is to say the QBs have to throw the ball on intermediate & deep routes to them? Why not force the smaller ILB to make a tackle on the bigger receiver & actually wrap them up & drag them down or use rub routes with the tight end so wide receivers can run free?

            As I stated before, I’m hoping for great things, but not having any reservations about his skill-set, which no matter how much you believe it contains zero holes, is ridiculous.

          • Bill Kniess

            I’m sorry..I can’t post the scouting report? First..starters…I don’t say he’s Jack Lambert. Never even said he’d never or rarely have to shed a block. The DL has to do a job — that’s the 3-4. That’s why I pointed out they did go after DL help. Amazing … Shazier isn’t something at IL … and now .. Tuitt is a crappy pick-up on the line. I’m saying that Shazier was as good a pick at 15 as anybody..if he wasn’t he was going 16 to Dallas. Regarding the TE’s..absolutely scare me…but if you can’t even run with them..and they have a natural speed advantage because the know where they are going…then you’re toast right away. Rather have a safety try and do the job? The 2 short..not so heavy guys for SF seem to be o.k. ( yes I know their line ). This team needs more work…but I’m no where near unhappy with this pick. I’m not sure of #3 …but I had the guy they got in the 4th in the 3rd round…so I’ll take it. McCullers for a 6th pick…looks fine to me.

          • SDAZT.STEEL66

            You failed to answer the questions I posed above regarding the 5-techs. McCullers will be a practice squadder/inactive on game days at best this fall, while Tuitt could be a liability himself if he is inserted into the starting lineup.

            Also, we have yet to see Shazier match up against the likes of athletic TEs he will see at the pro level, so saying it is an automatic matchup advantage in Pittsburgh’s favor is definitely farfetched. Shazier might keep up with them step for step to the ball, but it doesn’t mean his height and frame won’t be taken advantage of by the savvier TEs in the passing game.

            I guess we’ll have to wait and see how much of an impact Pittsburgh’s new track stars make this fall.

          • Bill Kniess

            and..and…and….geez what did I do to you. They all might be bums. And they might have signed the next Harrison as a college free agent. My preference if you ask would have been to take offers for Ben..not saying we would have received a decent offer….but why use up his talent during at least a semi-rebuild?

          • SDAZT_STEEL

            The fact that you even suggested trading the team’s best player is ridiculous. Trading away the only franchise quarterback this team has had over the last three decades will set them back a decade if not more with the talent which is currently on the roster. This team would be stuck in a Browns-like perpetual rebuild if they said good-bye to Roethlisberger now, especially with the number of productive years he has left in him.

            Of course, Big Ben deserves to play for an OC who will actually highlight his skill-set and utilize his talent to their fullest extent because Roethlisberger certainly won’t find it in Pittsburgh as long as the golf coach is roaming the sidelines & calling the plays.

  • Buckwheat191

    Really disappointed with this pick. So many more needs for the Steelers. But, I guess we as Steeler fans should be used to seeing LBs selected with high draft picks.

    • OVP66223

      You don’t think LB was a need? What team were you watching last year? We needed speed, playmaking and after 2014 would have only Timmons and Jones as starters at LB. Worilds is not going to get his 8 digit demands…they’ll let him walk (wisely) and would have holes at OLB and ILB. LB may have been the BIGGEST need and we go the fastest and most productive college LB available. Only Khalil Mack would have made me more happy, but even he has question marks.

      • Buckwheat191

        I saw DB as the biggest need. I don’t know if I can take another season of what we saw last year out of the CBs. Certainly LB was a need, but just don’t know about this guy in this spot. I know that Brent Musberger had a woody for him during college games. I guess time will tell.

  • bk

    I would laugh if they picked Max Bullough in rd 5 and he beat Shazier out..He is a MLB from a similar D.

    • OVP66223

      Can he run a 4.4? Was he first team All-American? Not even close to Shazier. Don’t get too over-dramatic on us.

      • bk

        SHazier has bust written all over him… at least this will be TOmlins last year hopefully…

        • Josh Knepshield

          How does he have bust written all over him? LOL

  • Michael Farraj

    Disappointed they did not select a CB. Really disappointed.

    • OVP66223

      Which overrated CB did you want? Not a single shut down CB in this draft. Did you want them to reach for a CB just because it felt like the biggest need? LB is a huge need. Only Jones and Timmons would have been left next year (they are NOT going to overpay Worilds…he will leave in FA). This team could not cover RBs or TEs last year. Shazier is probably the best LB in the draft at staying on the field 3 downs and covering (and blitzing).

      CBs? Dennard runs a 4.55 time…a bit too slow for my tastes and he doesn’t play off the WR as well as press (and Steelers don’t do press).

  • Kyle

    Jesus, this is where the dooms-dayers come to post. Maybe Colbert and tomlin and the whole damn organization know a thing or two about what they’re doing?

    • Craig

      Yup. Back to back 8-8 just screams that doesn’t it?

      • Kyle

        Being competitive during a rebuild or retool or whatever it’s properly called, I’d say yes. Not sure what you expect. To have long term executive staff ( including Tomlin) is to plan with a clear head for the future. You don’t want guys who are looking for a lottery win in a year or two. Trust your guys, buddy. They are proven winners. Just go with it unless it becomes clear they are failing. It’s nowhere near that point right now.

        • Bill Kniess

          yup. Steeler football still wins championships…

  • Carl Eagan

    Nope Colbert has proved he didn’t learn much while with Cowher and Tomlin has proved he is great at sound bites but not much else.

    Shazier is a pass rusher and should be a good one but his size is a negative when he gets blocked out pretty consistently in power situations, especially when offensive linemen are plastering him inside or outside on run plays. He had trouble in the lowly big 10 and wasn’t the best tackler in coverage lunging and using his arms. A major risk at 15.

    • OVP66223

      “Agile to slip blocks. Quick, strong hands to shed.”

      Hardly has trouble with blocks…most of the time he is too quick to BE BLOCKED, but the NFL scouting report said the above concerning blocks. Add in fastest LB, 25 reps, agile, 240 lbs, man, what in the world is not to like? This is nearly Brian Urlacher, only a tad faster.

    • Bill Kniess

      since when is a linebacker engaging offensive lineman? You got a new league on mars maybe?

      • Josh Knepshield

        You’re an idiot. They engage O-Lineman on almost every play. Lol

        • Craig

          I believe he meant ILB. Unless they are blitzing or are specifically called to head up and stuff the run, they don’t engage unless those O-linemen get to the second level. Which mean the DL just got roasted.

          • Josh Knepshield

            In an odd front, a 3-4, an O-Lineman or two will get to the linebackers. It is their job to shed the block and get to the ball carrier.

          • Bill Kniess

            so you don’t engage the lineman…when you engage a player your trying to move them somewhere or stop them from moving. You shoot the gap.

          • Josh Knepshield

            I’m pretty sure lineman get to the second level to move the linebackers. You have to be a troll.

          • Bill Kniess

            yes they do …. and who says you have to stand there and let them move you? I’m pretty sure Willis and Bowman (2) 6 foot 240 lb. guys managed to figure it out….maybe you should tell them it can’t be done. Now if you are saying Shazier won’t be those guys..fine..we’ll wait and see…right now you’re just being a jerk. I’ve never said that a OL will never get to the LB’s. So if Shazier is a LB they’ll get to him. Is this rocket science or football. In the name of Lambert chasing down John Elway..he made me want to hand back the money and go back to school to become an accountant.

          • Josh Knepshield

            All in all, linebackers have to be able to shed when OL engage them. There is not always going to be a gap to shoot through. Sometimes they have to shed from OL who are engaging them. Sorry I was a jerk, but you are the one who said I didn’t understand linebacking, which isn’t even a word.

          • Bill Kniess

            good thing you know so much more than me about football …. Linebacking.line-back-ing … the action or art of playing linebacker. You can’t be that daft…are you just here to cause a stir? I didn’t say a linebacker would not..ever..have to shed a block…I said Shazier should be able to handle the position quite welll. Don’t post again iI won’t respond.

          • Josh Knepshield

            I’m here to cause a stir? You have to be a troll. I don’t care if you don’t respond again. I’m just trying to make you learn something. Your exact comment was “since when is a linebacker engaging offensive lineman? You got a new league on mars maybe”——Does that sound like someone who is saying ILBs never shed or engage? NO. Are you a troll? I think so…

          • Bill Kniess

            A) You were responding in your first post on this pg. ( to someone ) else with what appeared to be a defense of drafting Shazier…”You do realize Farrior played at 220….”. So we both seem to be o.k. with Shazier being able to play linebacker.
            B) my response to that same poster was a bit of a rip at his many complaints about the kids ability.
            C) refer to B…when somebody is taking a bit of a rip at someone for going up one side of the kids supposed deficiencies and then down the other side it is not uncommon for some people ( me included ) to go a little over top in response. Surely, you should recognize that anybody ( even a lot of women..no offense ) know that a lineman and a linebacker might meet somewhere on the field…the good linebackers..and I’m hoping Shazier is,,,don’t meet up too often or for too long.

            Hope that resolves the issue.

          • Josh Knepshield

            Agreed

        • Bill Kniess

          no need to ‘defend’ me….Craig.

      • Josh Knepshield

        I like how I couldn’t reply to your “evidence” video. You showed a HIGHLIGHT video. How often will a player be blocked in his HIGHLIGHT video dude? LOL
        The Fact of the matter is if you watch a REAL game, 3-4 ILBs are engaging with O-Lineman on half of the plays, if not more.

        • Bill Kniess

          Yes. I showed a highlight video of a guy on one of the best defenses in the league who is 6’1 or 2 and roughly 240 lbs.who runs around a 4.4-4.5 40. and is considered one of the best ILB around. I’ve got a 21 -yr old kid roughly the same size and faster who most analysts gave a B+ draft rating or better. I don’t plan on posting more on this. I hate to see a Steeler fan not understand linebacking.

          • Josh Knepshield

            I don’t understand?! Inside linebackers engage all the time! Why do you think people were concerned with Chris Borland’s short arms? BECAUSE HE WOULD HAVE TROUBLE ENGAGING AND SHEDDING O-LINEMAN.

          • Bill Kniess

            Oh my..now it is Chris Borland… Chris Borland of the 4.83 40 speed. Greg Robinson almost matched that in one of his combine runs. Which means a OL quick off the snap is more than fast enough to get on Borland….so rd 3 pick. Let me ask this… When healthy who is the current guy beside pro-bowl quality Willis as inside LB — Bowman also pro-bowl quality 6 feet 240 lbs. —- sound familiar. And he is not even as fast as Willis and Shazier is faster than both. So how do they handle OL man? Or do you just not like IL or Linebackers in general?

            Highly productive, disruptive playmaker vs. the run and pass. Shoots gaps and plays behind the line of scrimmage (compiled 39.5 TFL the last two seasons). Agile to slip blocks. Quick, strong hands to shed. Knifes gaps and flows very well laterally. Striking tackler — uncoils on contact. Excellent speed and range — opens up his stride in space and really covers ground. Bends naturally. Changes direction and accelerates with ease. Explosive first step as a pass rusher — shows the ability to dip, bend and run the arc low to the ground. Ample athleticism and flexibility to mark backs and tight ends. Led all players at the combine with a 42-inch vertical jump and blazed a sub-4.4 40 time at his pro day. Four-down utility. Arrow is pointing up.

            Agile to —slip— blocks. Quick-strong hands to shed….Knifes gaps…Explosive first step ( e.g. avoid being engaged ) …39.5 TFL Worried a bit about the height when covering those tall tight ends …… led all players in combine with 42 in vertical.

            Next….

          • Josh Knepshield

            What the hell are you even talking about? You repeated that they have to SHED OL many times. You do know that shedding OL means breaking away from their engagement. Are you a troll?

    • Josh Knepshield

      You do realize Farrior played at 220 for most of his steelers career. Shazier is 237-240. Learn something.

  • bk

    The only impact will be when the other teams fullback knocks him down again and again

    • Bill Kniess

      he’ll go right by them