The Pittsburgh Steelers had a lot of needs coming into this draft especially on the defensive side of the ball. They addressed one of those needs in the first round of the draft by selecting Ryan Shazier the outside linebacker out of Ohio State.
This was somewhat of a surprise pick for the Steelers with players like Michigan State corner Darqueze Dennard and Alabama linebacker CJ Mosley still on the board. Not picking Mosley was a bit of a shock considering how talented he is and how well he played for such a good program at Alabama. Clearly they saw something in Shazier that showed them he could fit in at either linebacker position, on the inside paired with Lawrence Timmons or as a rusher on the outside to complement Jarvis Jones and Jason Worilds. The most logical fit for him is to be on the inside to replace longtime Steeler Larry Foote who left in free agency and just recently signed with the Arizona Cardinals. Shazier led the Big 10 in both tackles and tackles for loss last year and was a finalist for the Butkus award.
The need at corner was a big one with both Ike Taylor and William Gay over 30 and not getting any younger, but Pittsburgh clearly saw value later in the draft at the corner position. Passing on Dennard came as a big surprise because he plays very physically for a corner, which fits the Steelers style of play and defensive coordinator Dick LaBeau’s system. Another corner the Steelers passed over in the first round who likely wont be available past the first round is Jason Verrett from TCU. Pittsburgh will likely address the position later on in the draft.
Later on in the draft the Steelers still have big needs to address at the wide receiver and offensive and defensive line positions. There are still players available for them on both sides of the line in the later rounds as this year’s draft is loaded at those positions. The Steelers are usually very good at finding talented players in the later rounds of the draft, and this year they will have to do that again this season to improve their very depleted roster.
Taking Ryan Shazier was a bit of a surprise from the Pittsburgh Steelers, but only time will tell if it was in fact the right pick. Last season they also added to their line-backing core in the first round by picking Jarvis Jones, who was not an immediate success in his rookie season. Pittsburgh will be hoping Shazier and Jones will be building blocks for the future in their line backing core to add to proven veterans Jason Worilds and Lawrence Timmons. The Steelers usually have a very good plan while drafting and even though the pick of Shazier was a surprise it will surely have been very well planned out, and he may very well turn out to be another star for them on defense.
Commentary By Max Petkevicius