PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier with the 15th overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night.
The 6-foot-1, 237-pound Shazier moved around for the Buckeyes but will play inside linebacker in the NFL. The Steelers are looking for a starter next to Lawrence Timmons after releasing veteran Larry Foote.
Shazier was a two-time All-Big Ten selection for the Buckeyes and was a first-team All-American and a finalist for the Butkus Award during his senior year in 2013.
“What we needed was a defensive playmaker and he fits the bill in that regard,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.
This is the second straight year Pittsburgh has taken a linebacker in the first round.
Jarvis Jones finished with one sack but improved as the season went along last fall.
Tomlin said Shazier’s quickness played a major factor in the decision.
Though he didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, the Steelers said Shazier posted a time of 4.40 seconds.
“He’s a guy that is capable of being on his feet, making sideline to sideline,” Tomlin said. “He’s got no holes. He’s a football lover.”
The Steelers have depth issues at cornerback and wide receiver but instead chose to take a player who is only one of five Buckeyes to lead the team in tackles in consecutive seasons.
“This guy can flat out run,” general manager Kevin Colbert said. “The thing that really attracts me to him from a defensive standpoint … we need speed. You need speed at your linebackers, need speed in your secondary, you need speed everywhere.”
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