Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier put together a very strong 2016 season as the former first-round draft pick out of Ohio State registered 87 total tackles for a second consecutive year in addition to intercepting three passes and forcing three fumbles.
While tackle stats can be misleading at times, Shazier reportedly did lead the league last season in one stat related to getting ball carries down on the ground quickly.
According to Pro Football Focus, Shazier allowed the fewest yards (1.08) in the NFL in 2016 after making first contact against runs. The minimum to qualify for that stat was 20 first contacts. Behind him in that stat were two defensive linemen in Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams and Malik Jackson of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ryan Shazier was the best defender at limiting YAC a season ago pic.twitter.com/ovuvSPgyi3
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 7, 2017
43 of Shazier’s total tackles last year during the regular season came against the run and on 18 of those they went in the books as unassisted. Shazier also led the Steelers in total run tackles for a loss last season with 8, according to Pro Football Reference.
As has been mentioned several times this offseason, the stage is now set for Shazier to have a career season in 2017 and especially if he can avoid injuries and missed games, which is something he’s been unable to do during his first three years in the league.
After having his fifth-year option picked up by the Steelers earlier in the offseason, Shazier figures to cash in big roughly a year from now via a long-term contract extension with a stellar 2017 season which will hopefully be followed by a long playoff run ultimately culminating in a championship.