Countdown to Camp is a series aimed at preparing fans for the Pittsburgh Steelers upcoming training camp by focusing on players who were on the 2016 roster. Each profile will include basic statistics and a hand selected highlight from last year.
|Date of birth||December 20, 1991 (age 25)|
|Place of birth||Calhoun Falls, South Carolina|
|High school||Plantation (FL)|
|NFL Draft||2014 / Round 1 / Pick 15|
|Career||Pittsburgh Steelers (2014-present)|
Forgoing his senior year at Ohio State, Ryan Shazier was predicted by many scouts to be the third-best outside linebacker and NFLDraftScout.com ranked him as the 19th best prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was heralded for his athleticism, agility, flexibility, acceleration, lateral movement, strong hands and an outstanding level of acceleration.
The Steelers liked what they saw at both the NFL Combine and Ohio State's Pro Day and was the franchise's number one pick that year (15th overall). They wasted little time in signing Shazier to a guaranteed four-year, $9.5 million contract with a signing bonus of $5.23 million. It was money well spent as the Steelers worked with the young linebacker on improving his awareness and instincts while placing emphasis on overall vision and anticipation of opposing offensive plays.
Shazier started his pro career off with a bang, recording six total tackles and a pass deflection in the Steelers' home opener against the Cleveland Browns. The rookie upped the ante just one week later against the Baltimore Ravens, logging 15 total tackles (11 solo).
The remainder of his debut season would see Shazier battle back from a knee injury only to be hampered by an ankle injury.
Shazier, injured (shoulder) in 2015 and again in 2016 (the same knee he injured his rookie season), saw more time on the sidelines but remained optimistic despite questions about his durability from analysts. When he returned to action, Shazier ramped up his play - illustrating he had increased his awareness despite time off the field - by recording an interception against Joe Flacco in a victory over the Ravens, an interception of Cleveland Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III in the season finale and another against Matt Moore of the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wildcard game.
With the Steelers picking up Shazier's fifth-year option, 2017 looks to be Shazier's time to shine. The starting position on the opposite end of the line from James Harrison looks to be his to lose. Training camp is a perfect forge on which to harden Shazier, physically and mentally.
With Shazier speaking publicly with ESPN earlier this summer about the NFL having a "Patriots problem", he'll be looking to be a key member in preparing to not only face the nemesis that is New England but defeat them.
I feel we can win the Super Bowl. We might have had a problem in the past but I think we are going to be ready (in 2017)...I think we have the team to do it and everybody is prepared to do it. We compete every day and try to get better every day for things like that.