The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Where would Ryan Shazier be drafted if he were coming out of college this year?
This is the question that Dave Bryan posed last night in drawing a comparison between the college output of Ryan Shazier and Michigan linebacker Devin Bush, whom many Steelers fans are hoping will be available for Pittsburgh to select in the first round in a few days.
Shazier essentially bested Bush in every category, whether physical or game statistics. They are both supreme athletes, but Shazier the better of the two, and did more with that athleticism, including over 40 tackles for loss, more than one per game, and he created 10 turnovers while Bush had one within a similar number of games played and starts.
Many mock drafts are showing that Bush is not likely to make it past the Cincinnati Bengals at 11. In comparison, Shazier was available to the Steelers at 15 in 2014, and it wasn’t necessarily viewed as a bargain there. C.J. Mosley was still available at the time as well.
There is also Devin White, who in 34 college games (Shazier played in 39) recorded 286 tackles to Shazier’s 316 with 28.5 tackles for loss to Shazier’s 44.5. He had eight and a half sacks to Shazier’s 15 and three fewer turnovers, though with more interceptions.
Both of these players have a good chance of being drafted ahead of where Shazier was selected in 2014. Do either of them compare favorably to Shazier as a prospect? Would he be drafted ahead of both Bush and White this year?
If so, how much of that is a comment on the nature of the 2014 draft class—and the specific team needs at the time—versus how differently the inside linebacker position is being valued in 2019? Mosley just cashed in huge this offseason, and Shazier surely would have done the same—if not last year—had he not been injured.
Of course, the most important question is this: do either White or Bush have the potential to be as good as Shazier in the NFL?