With the 2017 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certain players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, have sent their stock rising, falling, or breaking even.
Player: ILB Ryan Shazier
Stock Value: Even
In his third season since the Steelers used a first-round draft pick to bring the inside linebacker into the fold, Ryan Shazier showed much of the improvement in coverage that many of us had been waiting to see during his first two season. Through his continued solid all-around play, he even managed to make the Pro Bowl, though it came through the back door as an alternate.
Yet it’s also true that it was just another season for Shazier when it comes to injuries, and until he can show that he can get through a season healthy, it’s hard to really say that he will transcend to another level in his game. Injuries have simply been a part of his career through three seasons now and there’s no compelling reason to believe that it won’t continue to be the case.
Overall, he actually had eerily similar stats to his performance from 2015. In both seasons, he had exactly 87 total tackles split between 55 primary tackles and 32 assisted tackles. In each season, he also recorded three and a half sacks, exactly.
Where he separated himself the most, however, was in the ‘splash play’ category. While he had an interception and two fumbles the year before, he upped the ante in 2016, forcing three fumbles and intercepting three passes in the regular season.
Shazier also recorded another two interceptions in the playoffs, though he also had a pair of forced fumbles in the 2015 postseason. Generally speaking, it’s nice to see that he has been able to produce in the all-important takeaways category.
Aside from his health, however, there is still one area of his game that definitely needs to be improved, and that is tackling efficiency. While we can attribute a fair number of his missed tackles simply due to his explosiveness, putting him in positions to even attempt low-percentage tackles that average players wouldn’t be able to reach, there are too many that are just the product of inconsistent technique.
Shazier is certainly a dynamic player, and arguably the best player for the Steelers on defense. He is crucial to what they’re trying to become on that side of the ball. Which makes it all the more imperative that he find a way to stay on the field by avoiding injuries.