Ryan Shazier is headed to Pittsburgh.
The Steelers selected Shazier with the 15th overall pick, where he’ll join former Buckeyes Cam Heyward and Mike Adams. Shazier is the 68th Ohio State player to be drafted in the first round and first since Heyward in 2011.
“What we needed was a defensive playmaker, and he fits the bill in that regard,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “Not only in terms of his skill set, but also what he did on the field. He was a highly productive football player.
“He gets after the quarterback and has made plays in coverage as well. We needed a defensive playmaker.”
Shazier impressed front office personnel at the NFL Scouting Combine with a 42-inch vertical, then he ran a sub-4.4 40 at Ohio State’s Pro Day, solidifying his status as a first-round draft pick.
|2014||15||Ryan Shazier||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|2006||5||A.J. Hawk||Green Bay Packers|
|2006||18||Bobby Carpenter||Dallas Cowboys|
|1999||28||Andy Katzenmoyer||New England Patriots|
|1995||30||Craig Powell||Cleveland Browns|
|1979||1||Tom Cousineau||Buffalo Bills|
|1977||23||Bob Brudzinski||Los Angeles Rams|
|1974||13||Rick Middleton||New Orleans Saints|
|1974||14||Randy Gradishar||Denver Broncos|
“His biggest asset, other than his youth, is his speed,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert said. “This guy can flat-out run. And the thing that really attracts you to him from a defensive standpoint against today's offenses is that as they continue to spread out, you need speed.
“He can make plays laterally, and most were tackles for losses. So we're super excited that he was there for us. Ryan Shazier was somebody that we valued and valued very highly. We're well aware of who we have on our team, but when we can add a player of quality, it will override the need every time.”
Shazier finished the 2013 season with 143 tackles, sixth-most nationally, and tied for 13th on the Ohio State single season charts. He also had 22.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and four forced fumbles. In a win over Indiana, he recorded 20 tackles, including school records for solo tackles (16) and tackles for loss (five).
Shazier’s 101 solo tackles ranked third nationally. It was the third-highest total in program history behind Tom Cousineau's 142 in 1978 and Chris Spielman's 105 in 1986. Shazier tallied 315 career tackles, placing 14th in school history.
“He’s got to continue to get bigger,” said ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay of the 6-foot-1, 237-pound Shazier. “He struggled to put weight on and keep weight on. But I love him as a football player. One hundred forty-three tackles last year, six sacks, he can cover form sideline to sideline, he plays the game hard, he contributes on special teams, he shows up big in big moments, does a good job with reading his keys, takes a false step here and there, but he’s got the speed to overcome it.
“I just think he’s going to continue to get better and better, I really do. Seventy-one tackles in the final five games when Ohio State needed him the most. With everyone around him seemingly falling apart and the mistakes they were making and as bad as things got defensively, he was the one guy who kept attacking and kept making plays.”
Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator is Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau, an Ohio State alum.
“Coach LeBeau is a great coach, and he's been there for a while. So I can't wait to get things rolling and get back to the old ways,” Shazier said.
In 2013, Shazier was named a first-team Associated Press, USA Today and ESPN.com All-American and first-team all-Big Ten by the coaches and media. He also was a Butkus Award finalist and Bednarik and Lott award semifinalist.
“I’m really happy with what I did,” Shazier said at Pro Day. “I feel I kind of did what everyone wanted me to do. I definitely feel like I'm a first-round pick.”
In the end, he was prophetic.