And you thought the Martavis Bryant trade was going to be the most shocking moment of the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The wide receiver clearly wanted out, but General Manager Kevin Colbert seemed to make it clear that the value of the player was more than the value of what they would get in return.
That? it pales in comparison to what we just saw. The Steelers’ Pro Bowl inside linebacker Ryan Shazier just graced us with his presence on the draft stage in Arlington in a way that we have not seen him since he suffered a life-changing spinal injury on the Cincinnati field in early December.
We have seen him stand on a number of occasions at this point, making multiple appearances at Pittsburgh Penguins games and at his alma mater, Ohio State. There were other moments as well. Tonight, he walked.
That is huge, I don’t think I need to say. From being unable to feel his legs in early December to being comfortable enough in his ability to walk by the end of April the following year to do so in such a majorly public fashion is striking, even moving.
— NFL (@NFL) April 27, 2018
I think as Steelers fans, as football fans more broadly, we are all emotionally invested in Shazier and what the future holds for him. There are mixed opinions about whether or not he should ever play again, given his injury, but it goes without saying that we all are pulling for him to lead a fully normal life unhindered by mobility concerns.
He might not have been out for a brisk stroll, and clearly labored on his way to the podium, but given where he was, it was a truly remarkable moment. So much so that I admit I lost sight of the fact that he was actually coming out to announce the Steelers’ first-round draft pick: safety Terrell Edmunds.
He could have been announcing the selection of an inside linebacker, somebody who could take his place in the field, if not for the position being heavily sought after in the round. Roquan Smith went early, with Tremaine Edmunds, Leighton Vander Esch, and Rashaan Evans all coming off the board comfortably ahead of Pittsburgh’s range.
Instead, they took Edmunds’ brother, safety Terrell Edmunds, who will compete for playing time during his first season between Morgan Burnett and Sean Davis. Whether or not he ends up in the starting lineup will largely be up to him.
But you can be assured that he will be hearing plenty from Shazier during his rookie season. While he might not be on the field with his defense in 2018, he remains very much a part of the unit, and of the team as a whole.