'Ryan blew this Combine up'

Posted Mar 4, 2018

Gorscak dedicates linebacker drills to Shazier.

Injured Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier was remembered today at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Day Three coverage on the NFL Network included Steelers scout Mark Gorscak delivering an inspirational message to the linebackers group on Shazier’s behalf.

Gorscak, who annually runs the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis, was wearing a “412 Shalieve” T-shirt.

“We want to dedicate this group here, because you’re the linebackers, to Ryan Shazier,” Gorscak announced. “We all know Ryan had an injury and he’s making an amazing recovery. He’s making a lot of progress on his purpose. The joy is in the journey and he’s going through a journey and you young men are going through a journey, also.

“Everything we do, we want to remember Ryan because Ryan blew this Combine up and he was a first-round pick. He’s an outstanding football player in our league. And one thing I know about Ryan Shazier, I ain’t bettin’ against him coming back. So let’s remember his spirt and we’re going to get a lot of things done in this group. We all cool about that? Good man, and you guys are all good men, too. Someone else might be the next Ryan Shazier here and be an outstanding football player, if not all of your guys.”

Shazier’s response on Twitter was included in the broadcast: “I appreciate all the love and support I’m getting from everybody at the #NFLCombine2018 Good luck to all the backers!! Yo time to shine.”

Added NFL Network host Rich Eisen: “Best of luck to you, Ryan Shazier. Look forward to getting you back on the field if that is what you want.”

A NEW DAY: The presence of defensive linemen and linebackers on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium afforded NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah an opportunity to outline what he maintains NFL teams are now requiring of players at those positions.

“The days of having the run-stuffing defensive tackle and the thumping linebacker are long gone,” Jeremiah said. “We’re coming off a Super Bowl, we had 879 combined passing yards. What you’re looking for, who can get after the passer, especially with this interior group of these defensive linemen. And then linebacker-wise, who can run and cover these athletic backs and tight ends they’re going to see each and every week.”

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock assessed the top inside linebacker on his list, Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds, as “unique.

“Tremaine Edmunds (6-foot-5, 253 pounds) is 19 years old and he’s the future of the NFL,” Mayock announced. “He can kick outside and rush the quarterback. He’s like a baby colt. He doesn’t even know how good he can be. He has speed and he has an ability to come off the edge and he tracks out in the flat.”

Georgia’s Roquan Smith (6-1, 236), Mayock’s No. 2 inside linebacker, “reminds me of (Atlanta’s) Deion Jones. He’s today’s off-the-ball, inside linebacker because of his ability to run. I think he’s a plug-and-play, off-the-ball linebacker, and people are going to love Roquan Smith.”

Mayock’s No. 3 inside linebacker is Leighton Vander Esch of Boise State (6-4, 240).

“There’s a lot of buzz about him,” Mayock said. “He’s only a one-year starter at Boise. His bowl game (the Las Vegas Bowl), his last game, was his best. His bowl game was off the charts, but only a one-year starter and some inconsistencies.

“In the pass game he’s one of the best linebackers I’ve seen in the last couple years, understands how to drop in zone coverage, he’s good in man- (to-man coverage). The question with him is A, why are you only a one-year starter? And B, we loved your game against Oregon in the bowl game but what about Oregon State and some of the other games?”

MIND GAMES: NFL Network reporter Kim Jones provided a glimpse into what takes place when teams interview players by relaying what she’d learned about the process from Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.

“He said he was told these four words, ‘father, baseball, shoe,’ and ‘yellow,’” Jones explained. “He was asked to repeat them. Fifteen minutes later, when the interview ended, he was asked to repeat them again and got it right.

“And yes, as part of the psychological testing, the written test, he was asked ‘cat or dog?’ He said he circled ‘dog.’”

SNAP DECISION: Karl Dunbar, the Steelers’ new defensive line coach, called for a “football on a stick” snap simulator prior to one of the defensive line drills.

“You know I gotta have one of these, right?” Dunbar said. “My mom’s gotta see me on TV.”

Said Mayock of Dunbar: “He’s a really good coach. I’ve seen him coach his guys over the years, he’s been both in college and the NFL. Coach Dunbar gets it done.”

PLAYING ALONG AT HOME: Day Three coverage included a tweet from singer-songwriter Bret Michaels, a native of Butler, Pa., and an acknowledged Steelers fan. Michaels was pictured at Heniz Field wearing a Troy Polamalu jersey and standing between Jerome Bettis and Rocky Bleier.

Michaels tweeted: “As a diehard @NFL@Steelers fan who bleeds black & gold, @JeromeBettis36 had skills, thrills & most important will. He could will the team to win, smiling the brightest & hitting the hardest. I’m also a diehard @GMFB@NFLNetwork viewer & watch all the time.”