The Pittsburgh Steelers have a stud linebacker in the middle of their defense in Ryan Shazier. When healthy, he’s considered one of the best linebackers in the league, boasting incredible speed and athleticism.
Those two factors are what set him apart from other players at his position, seeing as most are bigger, stronger defenders who thrive in shutting down the run. Because of the discrepancy, Shazier compares himself to Kevin Garnett. Or at least he hopes to reach that type of greatness one day.
“I want to be like the Kevin Garnett of football,” Shazier said on the Talk of Fame Network. “He changed the game for bigs, and he was more of a shooter for a big guy. And that was different for people who didn’t know how to adjust to that.
“And I want to be known like that when it comes to football. I’m not the biggest linebacker, but I’m a faster guy and still explosive and cover pretty well. I still have all the assets of everybody else, but I like to put my speed and explosiveness into it.”
To put into perspective just how freakishly athletic Shazier is for a player at his position, take a look at his measurables. He ran an unofficial 4.36 40-yard dash at his pro day, had a 42-inch vertical, 130-inch broad jump and a 6.91-second 3-cone drill at the Combine.
All of those numbers were among the best for linebackers at the 2014 Combine with his vertical and broad jumps ranking No. 1 at his position. The fastest 40-yard dash time at the Combine that year for a linebacker was 4.51, which means Shazier likely would have been the fastest had he run.
While he’s not a legend the way Garnett is in the NBA, Shazier hopes to one day reach that level.
“I just want to be a name that’s remembered forever,” he said. “I want to be in the Hall of Fame and have my name in the record books. I just want guys to remember me as somebody who’s really changing the game and (that) they want more guys to be like me and play like me and have the capabilities that I have.”