The Pittsburgh Steelers took a detour from the route that was supposed to lead them to a cornerback or wide receiver in the first round of last night’s NFL Draft. The detour led the Steelers to inside linebacker Ryan Shazier, out of Ohio State.
The Steelers desperately need help in the secondary and I had them improving it by drafting a cornerback in the first round. However, they decided to go with the playmaking, blazing speed of Shazier to help with linebacking duties on the inside.
With the 15th overall pick, the Steelers had Michigan State corner Darqueze Dennard prime for the taking but passed and the former Spartan landed with fellow AFC North foes, the Cincinnati Bengals with the 24th overall pick. Not only did Dennard end up within the division, but the corner I thought the Steelers should’ve/would’ve gotten, Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State, was drafted eighth overall by the Cleveland Browns.
The Steelers didn’t address their biggest need in the first round. They added a player to an already solid-looking linebacking corps because they “fell for him” during his offseason showcases.
Don’t get me wrong, Shazier is legit.
Shazier stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs in a 237 pounds. His career stats at Ohio State are as followed: nine forced fumbles, averaged 5.36 solo tackles per game, 44.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. Even more startling is this young man’s unofficial 40-yard dash time. A lighting-fast 4.3 was recorded by the Steelers. For someone his size, he sure can scoot.
His speed and playmaking ability is what drew the organization in.
General manager Kevin Colbert was dazzled by his speed and the same can be said for head coach Mike Tomlin. No doubt the Steelers’ defense needs a playmaker as the unit has seen a significant decline in turnovers and big-time, splash plays on the defensive side and that’s something Colbert and Tomlin believe Shazier can help with.
The expectations for Shazier looks to have him playing inside along side Lawrence Timmons. Shazier will fill the void left by veteran linebacker Larry Foote, who recently joined the Arizona Cardinals. The team is also hoping for Sean Spence to bounce back from a severe injury, he too will add depth and help to the linebackers.
Stong pressure on the front end helps the defensive play on the back end but I’m still not sold on this first round pick.
I can’t get past the fact that they had a quality corner in Dennard right there for the picking. The Steelers’ corners currently come in the form of Ike Taylor, Cortez Allen and William Gay. Taylor’s aging and it’s hard to make the argument he’s “one of the best corners in the league” anymore, Allen is streaky, he has his moments, both good and bad and Gay is certainly not the answer for the secondary.
Five of the top corners were take in the first round last night. It’s not to say the Steelers can’t snag a quality guy in the second round but with the majority of the high-end names off the board it’s disappointing to see that not one of them will be wearing black and gold this upcoming season.
Shazier is an A+ player but the pick is a C+ at best.