There weren’t many mock drafts that had the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting Ryan Shazier of Ohio State University with the 15th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Quite frankly, the selection sent the social media scene ablaze when the pick was sent in to the commissioner. But just because most of the experts saw the Steelers selecting Darqueze Dennard, a cornerback who would have helped solidify a porous pass defense, doesn’t mean that Shazier is a bad pick.
I wrote an article a few days ago regarding the Steelers’ need to select a linebacker in this draft, and Shazier is filling that team need. Shazier can potentially play both inside and outside linebacker, although Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert both called him an inside linebacker in their post-draft press conference.
Shazier brings a lot to the table for the Steelers’ defense, and the most important tool he carries with him is blazing speed. Shazier ran a 4.38 40-yard dash and will be a nice addition to a defense that could use some speed. His versatility is another tool that the Steelers certainly admired about the 21-year-old. He can rush the passer as well as drop back into coverage and run with the athletic tight ends that seem to be trending in the NFL.
Shazier is an every down linebacker who won’t have to be subbed out during sub package football, and that is something the Steelers will use to their advantage as they tend to run more and more sub package football and less of their base 3-4 defense these days.
Was the pick of Ryan Shazier surprising at 15th overall? Certainly; but was it a bad pick? No way. Shazier will have every opportunity to prove he is worthy of that 15th overall pick this fall when the Steelers travel to Latrobe, Pa. for their training camp.