After being selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2016, it appears that the NFL is finally beginning to take notice of the talent that Ryan Shazier possesses.
In odds released by the online sports betting website Bovada, they gave their preseason odds for a number of regular season accolades. One of them was the odds to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, the award given annually to the league’s most outstanding defensive player. In these rankings, they gave Shazier 22/1 odds of winning the award for the 2017 season, which was tied for the 7th-best odds in the NFL. The only players given better odds of winning were Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt, Raiders’ EDGE rusher Khalil Mack, Broncos’ EDGE rusher Von Miller, Chargers’ defensive end Joey Bosa, Rams’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and Panthers’ inside linebacker Luke Kuechly. Shazier was tied with five other players with 22/1 odds. The full list can be seen below:
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) August 7, 2017
Since his rookie season, Shazier has shown plenty of promise to be a elite standout in the NFL, showing excellent skills against the run and pass and being arguably the most athletic linebacker in the league. Injuries have played the biggest part in preventing Shazier from being considered a serious DPOY candidate. Over his first three seasons in the league, Shazier appeared in just 9, 12, and 13 games. When on the field, however, there is no denying what he brings to the Steelers’ defense. The past two seasons, Shazier has tallied a combined 174 tackles in just 25 games, as well as 7 sacks, 13 passes defended, 4 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles. If healthy for a full 16-game season, Shazier would have no problem breaking the 100 tackle mark and would probably add to his sack and interception numbers as well.
Shazier is entering a crucial year, as this is the last year on his rookie contract. The team decided to pick up his 5th-year option back in April, meaning that he’ll at least be with the team for the next two seasons. After that point, it can be expected that Shazier will be in for a big pay day, especially if he can manage to stay healthy.
And even more so if he adds NFL Defensive Player of the Year to his resume.
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