After being selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2016, it appears others are finally beginning to take notice of something Steelers Nation was already aware of: the talent that linebacker Ryan Shazier possesses.
In odds released by the online sports betting website Bovada, they gave their preseason odds for a number of regular season accolades. One of the categories they rated: odds to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, an award given annually to the league's most outstanding defensive player.
Within their rankings, Bovada gave Shazier 22/1 odds of winning the award for the 2017 season, which was tied for the seventh-best odds in the NFL. The only players given better odds of winning were Texans' defensive end J.J. Watt, Raiders' EDGE rusher Khalil Mack, Broncos' EDGE rusher Von Miller, Chargers' defensive end Joey Bosa, Rams' defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and Panthers' inside linebacker Luke Kuechly.
Shazier was tied with five other players with 22/1 odds.
The full list can be seen below:
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) August 7, 2017
Since his rookie season, Shazier has shown plenty of promise to be an elite standout in the NFL, showing excellent skills against the run and pass, and is arguably the most athletic linebacker in the league. Injuries have played the biggest part in preventing Shazier from being considered a serious DPOY candidate to date. Over his first three seasons in the league, Shazier appeared in only 9, 12, and 13 games.
When on the field, however, there is no denying what he brings to the Steelers' defense. The last two seasons, Shazier has tallied a combined 174 tackles in 25 games, as well as 7 sacks, 13 passes defended, 4 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles. If healthy for a full 16-game season, Shazier would have no problem breaking the 100 tackle mark and would presumably add to his sack and interception numbers as well.
Shazier is entering a crucial year, as this is the last year on his rookie contract. The team decided to pick up his fifth-year option back in April, meaning that he'll be with the team for at least the next two seasons. After that point, it's expected that Shazier will be in for a big pay day, especially if he can manage to stay healthy.
And even more so if he adds NFL Defensive Player of the Year to his resume.
Check out this article on GZ Sports Report