Steelers notebook: Shazier remembers deceased friend

Ralph N. Paulk
| Saturday, May 10, 2014, 12:21 a.m.

Linebacker Ryan Shazier, the Steelers' No. 1 pick, wore several different numbers to support his friends, including No. 48, worn by a close friend who died from muscular dystrophy.

“I wanted to play through him and let me know what the disease was all about,” said Shazier, who will wear No. 50 – a jersey worn by former Steelers linebacker and rival Michigan product Larry Foote. When asked about the irony, Shazier laughed then moved on to the next question.

• The Steelers' second-round pick, defensive end Stephon Tuitt, didn't blow away defensive line coach John Mitchell with his performance last season. Instead, it was an injury-free 2012 season that encouraged the Steelers to choose Tuitt over his more celebrated Notre Dame teammate, defensive tackle Louis Nix.

“Definitely, the thing that held him back was the hernia,” Mitchell said. “He gained weight. If you go back and look at him as a sophomore, he played around 308 to 310. Last year, he played around 330 to 335. He didn't play up to ability.”

• Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau on why the Steelers shied away from cornerbacks during the first two rounds. “I feel good about the cornerbacks that we have and we have more numbers there than people realize,” LeBeau said. “We may have great players in the building already. They just haven't had the chance to show us that they are great.” The Steelers return starters Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen, along with William Gay. They released Curtis Brown, who was a No. 3 pick in 2011.

• First-round coverage of the 2014 NFL Draft on ESPN and NFL Network drew a combined total viewership of 32.0 million viewers, making it the most-viewed Round 1 ever, according to The Nielsen Company (based on at least one minute of viewing). The 32.0 million viewers is up 28 percent over last year (25.0 million).

The combined ESPN/NFLN coverage also averaged a record 12.4 million viewers, ranking as the most-watched first round ever topping 2010 (8.3 million viewers). The NFL Draft was the most-watched program on cable and the second most-watched program on television Thursday night (The Big Bang Theory, CBS). NFL Network's first-round coverage drew a record average of 2.4 million viewers – a 60 percent increase over last year's previous record (1.5 million viewers).

• A record 12 wide receivers were selected in the first two rounds, including LSU teammates Odell Beckham (Giants, 12th) and Jarvis Landry (Dolphins, 63rd).

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