2014 Steelers draft: Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shazier first back-to-back defensive first round picks in 27 years

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers haven't used their first round pick on defensive players in back-to-back years since 1987-88. The reason they did now is mostly because they haven't been this thin on defense in that same stretch of time.

At 16-16 over the last two seasons, nothing should be sacred.

The Pittsburgh Steelers broke a 27-year streak Thursday when they selected Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Not since the Steelers selected defensive end Aaron Jones in the first round of the 1988 draft have the Steelers used back-to-back top picks on defensive players. Their first pick in 1987? Rod Woodson.

So Jarvis Jones is Rod Woodson and Shazier is a random defensive end? Not really. But the fact is the Steelers identified a critical need - athleticism on defense - over the past two seasons and they are doing something about it.

For what it's worth, too, the Steelers took Hall of Fame center Dermontti Dawson in the second round of the 1988 NFL Draft. Just sayin'.

They took offensive linemen with their top two picks in 2012, David DeCastro and Mike Adams. It would seem, for whatever it's worth, the cornerback and wide receiver positions would be next on their target list, but with three defensive linemen - Ra'Shede Hageman, Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix still available, and 14 picks before they're on the clock (starting with Houston, who very well could take a quarterback if a rumored deal between them and New England for QB Ryan Mallett doesn't work out), the Steelers could be wide open in terms of direction with this pick.

And their choices in the last two first rounds show they're bucking trends of history, who's to say they don't shock fans again with their second consecutive pick?

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