Steelers Select Speedball LBer

Ryan Shazier, the speedy will linebacker from Ohio State, was the Steelers' surprise first-round draft pick.

The Steelers last night chose the son of a preacher man, Ryan Shazier, an outside linebacker for Ohio State who'll move inside for the Steelers.

Shazier is a speedball who'll get in line to fill one of the Steelers' most glaring weaknesses last season, inside linebacker, which was manned by Lawrence Timmons and rookies Vince Williams and Terence Garvin aftr Larry Foote went down with an injury in the operning game.

Shazier led Ohio State in tackles the last two seasons, but he's much different than the previous four players who did that in Buckeyes history: James Laurinaitis, A.J. Hawk, Chris Spielman and Pepper Johnson, in that Shazier can run.

He can really run. And jump.

At the combine, Shazier's 42-inch vertical jump topped every athlete. At his pro day, the 6-1 1/8, 237-pound Shazier was clocked at 4.40 by the Steelers, which is 0.11 seconds faster than the cornerback many had predicted for the Steelers, and upon whom the Steelers had passed, Darqueze Dennard.

"Fast. Real fast," was how Steelers coach Tomlin described Shazier's pro day workout. "When you start talking about guys at the linebacker position running sub 4.5's, that's rare air."

Tomlin said Shazier will get in line at the mack inside position "and we'll move some guys around, but that's to be determined at a later date."

So the implication is that Timmons will move inside to the playcalling buck linebacker spot and Shazier will get in line with Shawn Spence and free-agent acquisition Arthur Moats for the playmaking mack position.

Shazier, 21, has "got both youth and experience," said Tomlin. "He has played a lot of football at Columbus, Ohio. Obviously, we're always very comfortable looking at Ohio State defensive tape. They asked him to do a lot of similar things that we could envision asking him to do. In their base defense, he played inside and in sub-package football, he got after the quarterback quite a bit. In 2013, I think he had six sacks. He is a guy that will be on his feet, making sideline-to-sideline tackles associated with today's football. We're excited to have him and quite frankly, the man doesn't have any holes. He's a football lover, he's experienced, he's exciting, he's excited to be here and we're excited to have him."

A native of Pompano Beach, Florida, Shazier played in all 13 games at Ohio State in 2011, his freshman season, and started the final two at weak-side linebacker. He became the full-time starter at the position in 2012 and made 115 tackles with 17 tackles for loss and 5 sacks.

Last season, Shazier led the Big Ten in tackles and tackles-for-loss with 134 and 22 1/2, respectively.

Shazier's greatest asset is his burst, which will certainly be used here in blitzing situations, and his weakness has been his instincts inside, which may have had to do with playing the will outside spot at Ohio State because of his relatively light 237 pounds.

"That burst is unique," said Colbert. "He's going to grow, he has to get stronger, he's going to have to get bigger. There are some big guys that will get on him on occasion, usually he figures it out on the first time and he'll go make another play."

"I think he just represents what's going on in football today," said Tomlin. "College football, with the ability to spread people out, you need people that can play in vertical and horizontal space. He has shown the ability to do that. It has leaked over into the professional game. Just the other day we were talking about the expansion of sub-package football and what that means to defenses going forward. This is a guy that really excels under those circumstances."


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