Ryan Shazier took the call he didn’t expect last night. It was from the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had just made the linebacker from Ohio State the 15th pick in the first round of the NFL draft.
Former teammate Bradley Roby much later took a call that didn’t seem like it was ever going to come. The Denver Broncos made the cornerback the 31st player taken in the round.
Shazier seemed stunned at first, as he hugged his mother, father and younger brother, but Roby bore a look of relief as he gave his mother a long hug. Those calls to the green room at Radio City Music Hall in New York were music to their ears as the two, who left Ohio State with a year of eligibility remaining, became the first Buckeyes players taken in the first round since 2011.
“I was shocked,” Shazier told The Dispatch. “It just goes to show you never know who is going to draft you.”
Or when. Roby, whose draft stock had taken a hit because of legal trouble he had in Columbus two weeks ago, sat until 11:40 p.m. before Denver called, making him the 69th Buckeye taken in the history of the first round, second only to Southern California (77).
“Thrilled to add Bradley Roby,” Broncos general manager and former quarterback John Elway tweeted. “He’s a tremendous talent at an area of need, and he was the highest-rated player left on our draft board.”
Shazier’s angst was more short-lived. The Steelers evidently had coveted him for a while, especially after he ran 40 yards in 4.36 seconds during the Ohio State pro day in March. After leading the Buckeyes in tackles for two straight seasons, Shazier had exhibited explosiveness in his workouts and on his video highlights.
“His production speaks for itself,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “His tape says he doesn’t need my endorsement. He plays with a lot of urgency. He was a significant contributor and really improved through his stay there.”
What mattered most to Shazier and his family was that the Steelers made the call. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was there along with defensive coordinator Luke Fickell.
“Ryan is sitting there with his family,” Meyer said, “and you always want good things to happen to good people, and there’s no better people than Ryan Shazier and his family.”
Shazier’s selection gave the Buckeyes a first-round pick after a two-year hiatus.
“It feels amazing to get to start that legacy all over again,” Shazier said.
The last Ohio State player taken in the first round was defensive lineman Cameron Heyward in 2011, and he also was taken late in the night by Pittsburgh.
“I would like to welcome you to the Steelers,” Heyward tweeted to Shazier. “Can’t wait to work!”
Said Shazier: “It is amazing that I actually am getting this opportunity to fulfill a dream. I am just so happy.”
Meyer said he was working to take advantage of the news that Ohio State was back in the first round.
“Ohio State should have first-rounders,” Meyer said. “We’re working our tails off to develop them, and we’re going out and recruiting guys with that potential. I’m sitting here right now sending out messages, as many as I can to our recruits.
“Every young player wants to go play in the National Football League, so to see Ohio State represented, and with myself here, and Coach Fickell, and Ryan, and Roby, it’s awesome.”
The second and third rounds will take place tonight. Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde and possibly offensive lineman Jack Mewhort are expected to be picked.