The pressure which comes along with being a first round draft pick has to be enough of a burden to nearly strangle the average person. Take a first round pick who hasn't lived up to the hype and insanely over-the-top expectations by the rabid fan base and you have yourself players who might start to press.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a couple of these players on their defensive linebacker corps in Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shazier. Jones has been the recipient of fans' hatred since underperforming his rookie season, and Shazier felt the same venom after an injury plagued 2014 rookie campaign.
Will the Steelers offseason conditioning pay off?
All off-season long, we got glimpses via social media into seemingly endless workouts by many members of the Steelers' roster. Will it translate onto the field, or was all that iron being pumped for naught?
Often times fans don't think these players realize what is being said about them, that they don't read newspapers, check websites and understand the general narrative surrounding their spot on the team and their play. Thinking such a thing couldn't be further from the truth, especially when Shazier posted this photo on his verified Instagram page of an article written here on BTSC. Did Shazier read the entire article, or even a word? Possibly not, but at the same time he at least was aware of our existence and the content we are producing.
These players are aware of the pressure on them to perform in 2015, and the only way to remove the pressure is to get the opportunity to prove themselves on the field.
"Jarvis, he has a lot to prove just like I do," Shazier told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. "We've been talking and we've been working this offseason."
Jones has been the quiet one. Going about his business, not posting ridiculous workout videos, and ultimately putting his head down and working hard to meet the highest expectations placed on him, and those expectations are the ones he has placed on himself.
"I'm here to work, I've been working. All the other stuff that goes with it doesn't matter." Jones said.
It has gotten to the point where other players are seeing Jones and Shazier as players who might be pressing, and they are there to let them know they have their full faith and trust.
"He wants to be a guy who gives us 10-12 sacks a year," said fellow first round linebacker Lawrence Timmons about Jones. "Very motivated."
Motivation and work ethic are the foundation to a successful season, and both Jones and Shazier now only have to prove their hard work and dedication this offseason will pay dividends for them in 2015 by producing on the field. As RB DeAngelo Williams walked by Jones in the cafeteria at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA he said to Jones, "You're looking really good out there.".
As nice as it must be for Jones to hear that from a teammate, he would surely enjoy it better when he starts producing in the regular season, and not just on the practice field, but it is a start...possibly the start of something great.