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Ryan Shazier Stood Out At Rookie Minicamp


The Pittsburgh Steelers held their rookie minicamp last week, which was the first chance for all to get a glimpse at the team’s new draft picks in uniform—albeit without pads, but at least with a helmet and going through drills.

It’s an opportunity to get a feel for how they look on the field, to get a sense of their fluidity and their ability to learn and apply that knowledge quickly. Of course, it doesn’t tell you what kind of football player they’ll be, but first impressions are first impressions.

Mike Prisuta and Bob Labriola recapped the minicamp from last week on a Steelers.com Live segment from the team’s website yesterday, and they shared their own first impressions of some of the Steelers’ draft picks from camp.

Labriola in particular was encouraged by what he saw out of the Steelers’ first-round draft choice, inside linebacker Ryan Shazier:

One of the things that I noticed was number one pick Ryan Shazier. What I noticed about him in these workouts was he just kind of had a little bit of a presence that you would expect, or hope for, from a number one pick.

He stood out athletically, he was vocal—I won’t say he was a leader in terms of telling other people what to do, because he was just learning what to do himself, but he was the first one up in every drill. Like I said, he just had a presence, a vibe about him that you’re hoping to see out of your number one pick.

If you’ll recall, the Steelers drafted an inside linebacker last season that showed well during rookie minicamp. Vince Williams was helping his peers through their drills, and he went on to start for much of the season last year.

Shazier seems to have shown glimpses of similar traits, although if he does start, he won’t be asked to call the defense, as linebackers coach Keith Butler said that in that case, Lawrence Timmons would move to the buck and assume those duties.

Prisuta also came away impressed, describing a player who seems to have either already come to understand the way things go around the Steelers facilities or simply fits that well into how the Steelers do things.

“When [he would screw up a drill], Ryan Shazier—drop down and give me 20. That’s the protocol when the veterans get here. That’s what they’ll be doing. You’ll see that at Saint Vincent. He was doing those pushups all on his own, holding himself to the standard”.

None of this reveals anything about the type of player Shazier will be once he gets on the field, but it does provide some insight into the type of person he is, in the way he goes about his  job and handles his business. He still has a long way to go to prove anything substantially meaningful, but the next step—OTAs—is just around the corner already, so hopefully we’ll hear more positive reports on him sooner rather than later.

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About Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • blue

    #15 selection, I would hope he stands out.

  • James Kling

    Outstanding. Granted, a long way to go, lots of sweat, cracking the playbook, and the dreaded rookie wall, but I love the Shazier pick.

  • Chad H

    Good and this should be expected. Any reports on Howard Jones? Just want to hear rumors about him. Another fast linebacker that I hope can make some noise. We have a glaring need for a backup OLB.

  • ApexSteel

    Good to hear. Now he has to work on mastering his speed and actually getting off blocks consistently. Getting there fast don’t mean a thing if you can’t finish.

  • Steel PAul

    I’m so excited about this player and what this does for our LB group as a whole.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Beyond just the excitement of new and young talent (of which there is plenty), I think it’s a HUGE thing to have high-character guys like Shazier in the locker room. Remember the type of team unity that you could SEE in 2008 and 2010? That goes a long way.

  • Jeff

    I completely agree. It seems like team unity and leadership is just as much if not more important than talent.

  • steeltown

    Good

  • Matt Manzo

    So far we’ve heard good things about Shazier, Zumwalt comfortable in the D, Mcullers looks like there’s potential. Let’s keep it going!!!!

  • Nolrog

    I wasn’t thrilled that the Steelers went LB in the first round, but the more I hear about this kid, the more I think they may have gotten a steal. Can’t wait for the season to start.

  • PoKey21

    I’m a huge Buckeyes fan and I love Shazier. Problem is I can’t help but think the Steelers didn’t get the player that will lead them and produce Ws in the future. I think Shazier will prove to be a good linebacker, but elite and worthy of the #15 overall pick remains to be seen.

    Vince Williams to me is someone the Steelers got a steal on in the daft and those CHEAP late round picks are what great teams use to develop their roster into SB contenders. Not every player on a SB contender is a pro bowler. Teams need to rely on those late picks to produce enough so they can have the capspace to sign talent elsewhere. Williams is a huge value for the price. Was he literally lacking that much talent that the Steelers truly believed there was no way he could develop into a consistent starter? I know people will say consistency isn’t enough for the Steelers D, but in reality consistent at 1 position and elite at another position is way better than elite with depth at only spot and have scrubs at other positions.

    Im sure Shazier will be able to beat Williams out for the starting spot by his sophmore season at the absolute latest. Problem is that leaves Vince, who is a quality football player, reserved for special teams and back up duty where his development will be hindered.

    And whose to say that when Lebaue retires within the next year or 2 that we don’t start switching into a 4-3 scheme that Tomlin prefers? That leaves Timmons in the middle and 2 quality ILBs without a home. It would force Shazier to learn the system from an OLB perspective. I know this is all speculation but good franchises take into consideration the here, the now and the future. This was one draft where I thought the Steelers needed to fill a need and not just take the best available. But hey we will see how it goes in the future that’s why they get paid the big bucks.

  • ATL96STEELER

    LB was not the 1st or 2nd option on their board I’m sure but as the names clicked off BPA was probably the thinking and Shazier fit that @ 15. I like the pick, I do not think he will be the starter out the gate…I expect to see him in a sub pkg this year splitting time with Williams.

    You see the effects of his speed on tape…I think once he learns where to be in the DEF, I think we’ll see the effects of it here.

  • ATL96STEELER

    I’m not that sure Shazier will beat out Williams next year…we’ll have to see how this year unfolds.

    Scheme…more than ever the Steelers are a sub-pkg DEF now as are most NFL teams…the base pkg might be on the field for a 30 to 40% of the snaps.

    Regardless of scheme you still have to be able to run the ball and stop the run to be a championship caliber team. But, matchup wise, DEF are having a tough time defending the TE position and the middle of the field in pass coverage…Shazier imo is the rare athlete you want to defend that area…a tad small for heavy run stopping, but they can tackle…with the height and speed to cover TEs.

    Spence was the initial try at this player, and I wish him the best, but Shazier is a little more gifted….I see a role for both Williams and Shazier unless he’s just a stud in run support.

  • http://thereactionblog.com Michael Stickings

    Shazier may not start right away, but I’m incredibly excited about what our LB corps might look like by later in the season, with Timmons calling the plays, Shazier roaming around making plays with lightning speed, Williams continuing to develop, and maybe even Spence providing great depth in the middle. Sure, we don’t exactly have much depth on the outside, but maybe Jones takes a leap forward this year and Worilds proves last year wasn’t a fluke. And maybe, just maybe, Zumwalt shows some OLB flash and Moats provides some support as well. Not bad, eh?

  • Bob

    What will tell me if Shazier’s 1st year was a success or not (provided he gets on the field for a reasonable number of snaps) is if we can stay in our base D more often. Another 10% would mean a lot! His ability in space and coverage can do much to counter short to intermediate passing, thus making the QB hold the ball longer for the better blitzers to get there.

  • RMSteeler

    Can’t watch the video at work, but if what stood out to Labriola was “presence (twice), athletic, vocal, vibe”, and he was surely concentrating more on the #1 pick, I wonder if any football skills stood out to him because I don’t see any in his quote. Is there a blackout on real information coming out of the Steelers minicamp? Because the only real football info I’ve read so far is that McCullers sometimes forgot to not tackle running backs in drills.

  • Matt Manzo

    I’ve been wondering the same thing! A few interviews and that’s it?!

  • RMSteeler

    There won’t be any ILB’s without a home. I think that I now see what the Steelers are doing that started with the drafting of Spence, and they needed more ILB’s to make it work. Get ILB’s that are lighter, faster, bigger, hit harder and can pass cover to bring in instead of CB’s. I think that’s why they didn’t go early on CB’s (although they might have for Fuller) I’d rather have an extra one or two of that type of ILB brought in on probable passing downs instead of our “average” backup CB’s. What used to be ILB/Safety ‘tweeners have found a new niche. Call it a Heavy Nickel and Heavy Dime package. I think Lebeau’s defense is finally adapting to the New NFL pass happy offenses. Let’s hope so. The new base defense may be what used to be the old sub.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    Winning creates unity. Losing eventually splits locker rooms. Just MO>

  • Cody Younkin

    You have to hope he beats out Williams. With him on the field, he can take away the mismatches and give us a solid interior pass rush. Even if his tackling isn’t the best, his speed will force the run into other defenders as you see in a lot of his film. it just comes down to him learning the defense because he beats out Williams in every other athletic category. The game is getting faster and his speed and athleticism is a huge asset

  • Paddy

    he has to start right away or they are in trouble.

  • Steelers12328882

    Wow! Just realized we have three 1st rd picks and one 2nd rd pick invested into our linebackers. That’s insane! These guys SHOULD be the best in the league. It’s time to get it done!

  • Steelers12328882

    Now we have two #15 selections, a #17 selection and a #52nd selection invested into our linebackers.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Jim Wexell noted that he looked like he was processing plays a lot of the time (e.g. he had to think), which really isn’t surprising, but it seems to have stood out. Still a long way to go of course.

  • Matthew Marczi

    They don’t do much in terms of “football skills” at rookie minicamp, is my impression. Real football information is for training camp, to be honest.

  • Jeff

    Sure.. Conversely, you could also say that unity causes winning.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    I am sure your point could be proven. I’lll take it.

  • Shawn S.

    True. Speed doesn’t mean much if you can’t control it.

  • Louis Goetz

    I’m one of the (few) people who believe that Sean Spence is going to be every bit of the player that the Steelers drafted 2 seasons ago. If I’m right we may see a log jam at the ILB spot. No one’s going to supplant Lawrence Timmons, and he’s not moving to OLB. So the Steelers may have 2 starting caliber defenders and only 1 spot on the field for them to play. Usually that’s a good problem to have, but this team needs to have playmakers on the field; not waiting in the wings. I’m wondering if either of them can’t move to strong safety. Shazier definitely put up the #s in shorts, while Spence has definitely showed the speed in pads. I don’t think either of them will be Polamaloesque, but either could bring a level of physicality to the secondary that no one else in the league can match, without sacrificing the speed needed for primary responsibilities. Let’s just hope the Steelers actually find themselves having to scratch their heads to solve this “problem.”

  • Chad H

    Thanks Matt

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