Ryan Shazier was that No. 1 pick, and he has been in the starting lineup ever since, next to Timmons, even though Williams is the more “veteran” player, even though Williams has been lighting it up here at Saint Vincent College during the first week-plus of this camp.
But there is no sense of Shazier being handed something he doesn’t deserve, because he also has been a bright spot so far. He has been a bright spot in different ways, a bright spot in ways in which the Steelers defense was deficient last season.
At another time, in a different era of professional football, Vince Williams is precisely the kind of inside linebacker a defense needed. Tough, physical, good against the run. As scouts say, “a downhill player.” But contemporary offenses aren’t run-first anymore. There’s a lot of sub-package, multiple-receiver, spread-the-field stuff going on in the NFL these days, and that’s not Vince Williams’ forte.
It is, however, Ryan Shazier’s forte, and his speed and playmaking ability have been on display regularly so far in this, his first NFL training camp. During pass-rush drills, Shazier already is displaying moves that more seasoned players never develop, and once he gets a blocker on his heels looking for a swim move, for example, he has the power to run the guy over and is willing to do just that.
Now, on to some other matters:
* Jerricho Cotchery will be missed, both because of what he contributed on the field and because of the consummate professional he was. That said,
* One of the more underrated free agent signings in recent Steelers history – linebacker
* When the 2014 regular season is over and the final statistics are counted,
* The Steelers will cut some players on Aug. 30 who go on to have nice careers with other teams. That wasn’t the case in the previous couple of summers, which is an indication of an overall roster upgrade.
* With so much promise surrounding Shazier, it’s easy to fall asleep on second-round pick
The following was written by a sports columnist in the Jan. 30, 1974 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette following the first five rounds of the 1974 NFL Draft, after the Steelers had picked Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth, cornerback Jimmy Allen and Mike Webster:
“The Steelers seem to have come out of the first five rounds of the draft appreciably strengthened at wide receiver but nowhere else. They didn’t get a tight end, and the ones remaining are more suspect than prospect. They didn’t get a punter, although none of the nation’s best collegiate punters went in the first five rounds. They didn’t get an offensive tackle who might’ve shored up what could well become a weakness. What they did get was Swann, who seems to be a sure-pop to help; Lambert, who figures to be the No. 5 linebacker if he pans out; and three question marks.”