BTSC's Dale Grdnic was at the South Side facility Thursday evening when the Steelers selected Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier. In fielding quotes for the story he filed, one part sticks out.
Shazier noted that while the Steelers said he can get bigger, other coaches have told him that his weight is just fine. He also said he was timed as fast as 4.35. Shazier added that he ran a 4.36 at his pro day.
He's 21 years old, and only the very lucky and the disciplined will remain around their same weight. But the Steelers don't seem overly concerned with him at 237 - his Combine weight.
And they shouldn't be.
The Steelers chose him based on production and explosion, two things he showed repeatedly on film when he was playing at around 225 pounds. The Steelers are accepting the fact the linebacker position is becoming, more or less, a hybrid S/LB spot now. They showed that literally last season when they moved safety Troy Polamalu to a linebacker role when traditionally built linebacker Vince Williams was being targeted in the passing game.
If they're looking for Shazier to stay fast as opposed to bulking up - one of the reasons rookie linebackers haven't gotten on the field often for the Steelers in Dick LeBeau's defense - you're looking at what's likely the second straight year of a rookie starting in the linebackers group.
He's the most pro-ready of himself, Jarvis Jones and Vince Williams, for what they're asking him to do. He's going to be in coverage quite a bit (the Steelers have seen a 10 percent increase in pass completions allowed since 2011, a trend that has increased each of the last three seasons) and from there, he's simply going to have to play angles against the run game and create as much churn as he can inside the box - assuming the fears of naysayers are confirmed and he simply isn't strong enough to bang around inside.
The Steelers must feel he's at least serviceable at the 237 range, or are comfortable sticking him in an advanced weight room program, because three other numbers - 4.37 - appear to carry more weight.