BY KEVIN POWELL
Credit to Adam Hunger of USA Today Sports
The last couple years we all saw it. A little older. A little slower. Injuries piling up and a lack of depth to fill the holes. Dick Lebeau’s Steelers defense finally looked as old as their defensive coach. It was time to infuse youth into the team and Pittsburgh started remarkably well by picking not only the fastest linebacker in the draft, but one of the fastest overall players — Ryan Shazier. His combination of speed and athletic ability is rare indeed, and to get that type of talent at pick 15 is hard to believe. He is 6’2, 237 pounds, and runs a 4.38 forty. Add a 10’10” broad jump and a 42″ vertical, and you have what will soon be NFL All-Pro material.
Ryan Shazier is already slotted in as the inside linebacker next to Lawrence Timmons, taking the place of Vince Williams, who certainly played well at times last year, but does not have the overall playmaking ability that Ryan possesses. Ryan covers sideline to sideline, while giving Pittsburgh much needed help covering receivers and backs also. Dynasty owners should be salivating over the combination of tackles, fumble recoveries, and interceptions he will be piling up year after year, not to mention the multiple sack opportunities he will have in a Dick Lebeau defense.
Pittsburgh also drafted Stephen Tuitt at defensive end and Daniel McCullers at defensive tackle. Tuitt could start this year, and with the addition of Cam Thomas in free agency, it is easy to see that the Steelers are not only getting younger, their defensive line is getting much bigger and eating up space — allowing their linebackers to seek and destroy running backs, receivers, and quarterbacks once again. The depth they had been lacking in recent years is being addressed, and a dynamic talent like Shazier will shine immediately and for the next 10 years.
Ryan Shazier, based on his current situation, is my number one rookie linebacker in dynasty, even over Khalil Mack. If your team is in need of what should probably be a top 10 overall dynasty linebacker, you found him in Pittsburgh. I expect that the combination of coaching and his skill set will send him on the road to become another one of the long line of great Pittsburgh Steeler linebackers. Dynasty teams that start multiple linebackers should consider him with a late first or early second round pick if there is a need. Filling a need for over a decade is very rare and Shazier is that rare of a defensive talent.