With offseason news at a crawl, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the history of the team. From obscure players to defining moments, I’ve spent a ton of time watching old highlights and footage. Because it’s Youtube and you can end up anywhere, I watched NFL Films’ list of the top 10 fastest players in history. No Steelers made that list but it got me to thinking – who are the speediest ever to wear Black & Gold?
So I’ve made my list of the ten fastest in franchise history. To be clear, it isn’t strictly a list based off 40 times. It’s weighted based on career success and longevity, guys who put that speed to good use. Not just who ran fast on a track.
We’ll have two names in each post.
#10 – Ryan Shazier/ILB (2014-Present)
Linebackers shouldn’t be able to run like Ryan Shazier. His sub 4.4 speed should be reserved for wide receivers and cornerbacks, not 237 pound linebackers who bang around in-between the tackles. Shazier had one of the most remarkable pre-draft workouts ever, running a 4.38 at his Pro Day. At the Combine, he jumped 42 inches in the vert and 10’10” in the broad, a dazzling display that’s translated – and then some – on the football field.
Few at his position cover sideline-to-sideline, allowing him to recover when he guesses wrong and make some serious splash plays when he’s right (and more often than not, he’s right).
Take him running down WR Albert Wilson – no slouch himself, running a 4.43 coming out of college – against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016. Ignore the sloppy tackling and be thankful that Shazier saved six.
You’re not seeing many linebackers even come close to making that play, let alone finishing it.
I’m sure for most teams, linebackers aren’t showing up on this type of list but in Pittsburgh, Shazier cracks the top ten.
#9 – Jimmy Orr/WR (1958-1960)
We don’t have a 40 time for Orr, who played in an era when those things didn’t matter. All that mattered is what happened on the field. And Orr was one of the league’s biggest playmakers throughout his entire career. Only three of those years came in Pittsburgh but as a rookie in ’58, he led the entire NFL with an absurd 27.6 yards per catch. a figure that still ranks second in NFL history.
Over three seasons, he caught at least five passes of 50+ yards, four of those coming in that sensational rookie campaign.
And although we’re not technically counting what he did after the Steelers, he excelled with the Baltimore Colts, twice more leading the league in yards per catch, even in 1968 at age 33. Highlights are scarce, especially him as a Steeler, but here he is blowing past this CB on a touchdown catch from RB Tom Tracy.
Orr was one of the franchise’s first true playmakers, barely five years removed from when they became the last team to abandon the Single Wing offense that limited an aerial attack. Using the stats to tell the story, also on their fastest.