Ryan Shazier will become a star in 2016
When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted linebacker Ryan Shazier with the 15th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, there was a lot of excitement. With Shazier’s speed and ability to cover, it looked like the Steelers were getting a future star and an anchor to their defense for years to come.
But after two injury-plagued seasons, Shazier has yet to meet the lofty expectations that the Steelers had for him. As a rookie, he showed a ton of promise, but injuries to his knee and ankle cut his season short. He would play in only nine games as a result.
Then during his second season, he managed to show the potential that made him one of the first linebackers drafted back in 2014, but once again injuries hindered him all season. After recording a career-high 15 tackles against the San Francisco 49ers early in the season, he suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter of that game. He ended up battling that injury for most of the season and missed four games for the Steelers as a result.
Despite all the injuries though, when Shazier has been out on the field, he has been very good. He’s shown the ability to cover opposing tight ends and he’s delivered big hits in the running game. Honestly, by-and-large, he’s been very successful when he actually plays.
That’s why Shazier will become a star in 2016.
The bottom line is that Shazier has all the tools to become one of the league’s best linebackers; he just needs to stay healthy for an entire season. Clearly it’s something that Shazier knows he needs to work on and he’s teamed up with fellow Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison to train this offseason in hopes that it will help him stay on the field.
And if anyone knows how to prepare for an NFL season, it is certainly Harrison. He’s been a model for keeping healthy at a very physical position, and his rigorous training program is a big reason for that.
“It’s not a game where you are able to just come to work on Sunday and think that everything is going to just roll out the way it was planned,” Harrison said about the offseason training plan. “It’s a physical game. You have to put the physical work in to prepare to play.”
With Shazier now working with Harrison, he will certainly be prepared for the upcoming season better than he has ever been before. And it should help the young linebacker stay healthy.
Now obviously the increased offseason workload doesn’t necessarily improve his chances of staying healthy, but it certainly couldn’t hurt.
Most importantly, Shazier still has the immaculate speed that had scouts raving about him when he came out of Ohio State University. In fact Shazier might have actually gotten faster over the offseason. He managed to beat receivers Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, and Sammie Coates in an epic 40-yard dash.
Now considering that Antonio Brown is one of the quickest players in the NFL, it’s almost scary to think that Shazier can play at an even faster level. It’s a big reason why many people are expecting big things from Shazier in 2016.
Even Shazier knows that he has the potential to have a huge year if he can stay healthy. After recovering from the shoulder injury last season, Shazier made big strides towards the end of 2015 and was a crucial part of Pittsburgh’s playoff run.
“I definitely feel I was starting to peak at the end of last year,” Shazier said. “I was starting to understand things a lot better. I just feel more at home in my decision-making.”
With his new comfort of the defense and his blazing speed, it should be a huge season for Shazier.
Because if he can stay healthy in 2016, he will become a star.