Ryan Shazier, Pittsburgh Steelers strike rookie deal


The Pittsburgh Steelers can begin their transition away from an "old and slow" defense now that their speedy first-round draft pick is under contract.

The team announced Thursday that linebacker Ryan Shazier, the No. 15 overall pick in last month's draft, has signed his rookie deal.

Close to a carbon copy of fellow inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, Shazier is poised to become the first rookie to start the season opener in Dick LeBeau's defense since Kendrell Bell in 2001.

"The young man has no holes," coach Mike Tomlin said of Shazier after the draft. "... He's a defensive playmaker. Bigger than positional needs, what we needed was a defensive playmaker."

The addition of Shazier gives LeBeau a chance to go back to his "Blitzburgh" roots with four linebackers capable of rushing the quarterback effectively.

The youth movement in Pittsburgh is one of the reasons the Steelers are a strong contender for the Around The League Podcast's Team of 2014.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" breaks down Colin Kaepernick's new contract and debates which players are poised for a breakout.