May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Ryan Shazier (Ohio State) holds up his jersey after being selected as the number fifteen overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Is Ryan Shazier the Next Troy Polamalu for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

In a recent non-contact practice the Pittsburgh Steelers began to show off what their first round pick can do.  Ryan Shazier spent the practice lining up all over the defense, using his speed to impress nearly everybody watching.  Shazier, mostly playing inside linebacker, lined up against whomever Dick Lebeau decided he should.  One play he was against Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown, the next play he was assigned to Le’Veon Bell, and after that he spent time covering Heath Miller.  Shazier also made an impressive interception against Bruce Gradkowski that few inside linebackers could make.  Here is Alan Robinson’s perspective of the pick.

Even some of the offensive players are beginning to recognize the impact that Shazier’s athleticism will have.  Ben Roethlisberger sounded like he was talking about Troy Polamalu, when he said, “Shazier is going to be fun to watch.”  That quote along with the description of the practice given by Robinson has begun to make people think that the old, slow, yet reliable Steelers defense is quickly becoming younger and faster before our eyes.

If Shazier continues to learn Lebeau’s defense at a solid rate, it would be shocking to not see him in the starting lineup come September.  He has already proclaimed his knowledge of the Steelers playbook at a “five or six” on a scale of 1-10.  The more comfortable he gets with the playbook and the more comfortable Dick LeBeau gets with him in the starting lineup, we could begin to see Polamalu-esque plays from the rookie linebacker.  A game changer on the defensive side of the ball is something that the Steelers definitely need.  Last year the Steelers forced 20 turnovers, only four teams had less than that in 2013.  If Shazier lives up to some of this hype and gets to play with a healthy Polamalu, it’s not hard to believe that the Steelers will have more than 20 turnovers this season.  Plus you would have to assume that being on the Steelers is the perfect situation for a player with the attributes Shazier appears to have.  Learning from a player like Polamalu and coach like Dick LeBeau can only help his chances of becoming a great player.

It appears Shazier will certainly help defending the pass, the question that remains is will Shazier be able to help the run defense that finished with a ranking of 21 last year?  At only 6’1″ and 237 pounds, Shazier is not a monster physically.  All the Steelers can hope for is that he continues to learn the LeBeau defense and that he can keep giving the Steelers memorable athletic plays, even if they are just practice plays for now.

Next Steelers Game View full schedule »
Sunday, Sep 77 Sep1:00Cleveland BrownsBuy Tickets
Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Pittsburgh Steelers Ryan Shazier

  • PJ_CA

    I really hope he has the impact on defense that he appears to have the ability to have. It’s hard to say anything about a rookie in June though, he hasn’t played a down yet. Can he make plays in the running game? Why not? If the D-line can get some push at all he has the speed to hit holes and stop runners, but that is a big IF with he D-line, they obviously failed last year. I wasn’t a fan of the Shazier pick, I wanted a CB, but he’s here, he’s a Steeler, and he’s got my support. I hope he does well, we really need him to be a playmaker on defense.

  • ApexSteel

    A little early for this question. Can he play in a variety of positions on the field because of his athleticism like Polamalu? Yes. Can he play as instinctively as Polamalu does. Absolutely not. Is that a bad thing? Of course not. I don’t think anyone can replicate Polamalu’s style of play. He just seems to have a 6th, 7th, and 8th sense when it comes to what the offense wants to do. He can be a great player, but with his own distinctive style not Polamalu’s

  • Carl Eagan

    I have been a critic of the Shazier pick. Showing that he projected as an OLB and was very weak on the inside. His major weakness is his lack of strength at the point of attack he doesn’t make alot of tackles in front of him and he also isn’t strong enough to shed blocks. His other glaring weakness was he lost track of his assignment in routes. Most anyone can look good in shorts but thats not how the game is played. Lets hope between Butler, Porter and Timmon’s he learns enough to play decently. But don’t put pressure on the kid that isn’t as good as the writers like to make him out to be let him develop and learn his own style of play because the NFL isn’t like the teams he is used to playing.

    • Too high fa Dis

      Shut the fuck up.