NEW YORK - Two Ohio State Buckeyes were taken in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft late Thursday night.
With the 15th overall pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Ryan Shazier, a speedy linebacker from Ohio State. The Denver Broncos took All-Big Ten cornerback Bradley Roby with the 31st pick in the NFL draft.
"What we needed was a defensive playmaker and he fits the bill in that regard," coach Mike Tomlin said.
While the Steelers have needs at other positions like cornerback and wide receiver, general manager Kevin Colbert couldn't resist the chance to get one of only 10 players in Ohio State history to lead the Buckeyes in tackles in consecutive seasons.
Roby, a fourth-year junior, joins an already solid group of Broncos cornerbacks that includes free agent acquisition Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., who is recovering from a partially torn ACL that required surgery and kept him out of the Super Bowl.
The Broncos jettisoned star cornerback Champ Bailey this offseason. The last player chosen 31st overall by Denver was linebacker Al Wilson, who went on to start 119 games during an eight-year career that included five Pro Bowls.
When let loose by Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, Shazier finished with six sacks for the Buckeyes last year. Tomlin stopped short of saying Shazier will do the same in Pittsburgh but allowed his quickness gives defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau plenty of "options" when it comes to sub packages.
The 21-year-old Shazier also makes a defense in the midst of a generational shift even younger. At 6-foot-1 and 237-pounds, he's small but doesn't think he needs to bulk up to make the same kind of impact he did with the Buckeyes, where he finished with 315 tackles in 39 career games.
"I don't feel I have to get bigger," Shazier said. "They say my weight is perfectly fine."