PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Most fans seemed to be caught off guard by the Steelers drafting Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier with the 15th overall pick in the first round, so Ohio State co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Luke Fickell joined Starkey and Mueller to tell us what sort of player the Steelers just landed.
Things started out with Fickell telling us he has coached a lot of great players at Ohio State, but there is one key factor that separates Shazier from the rest of them.
“I’ve had the fortune of coaching a lot of really, really good ones; obviously, some great ones, but the one thing the guy has that I haven’t seen is the ability to make big plays,” said Fickell.
One of the biggest concerns with rookies on the defensive side of the ball for the Steelers is the complexity of Dick LeBeau’s defense and how long it takes for players to pick it up.
With Shazier only playing linebacker for the first time three years ago, you might think this would be an issue for him, but Fickell thinks he’ll be able to make the adjustments necessary without slowing down.
“I don’t have any doubt that he understands the game of football,” Fickell said. “He definitely has a mind for football. His ability to have to pick it up, I don’t think he’s going to struggle. The one unique thing about Ryan that I think gives him an opportunity if he has to and is put in the situation where he’s going to play a lot, is he doesn’t play slow when he’s not exactly sure what’s going on. There’s a lot of guys that as they learn the game… they can’t freely play fast. He has an innate ability to play as fast as possible even not knowing all the information.”
Fickell also talked about what a great person Shazier is both on and off the field, why he’s fortunate to be drafted by the Steelers and how much better Shazier can be than he even was at Ohio State where he was a First Team All-American.