The Pittsburgh Steelers made a big move up in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. They did so to land Michigan linebacker Devin Bush. And the decision to do that—moving up 10 spots from 20th to 10th overall—was largely driven by a lengthy history of understanding the player.
It goes back who knows how long, really. While Head Coach Mike Tomlin never coached his father, Devin Bush, Sr., he did work with his best friend, Derrick Brooks, while they were with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers together, and they retain a relationship. Brooks is Bush’s godfather, so I’m guessing he has come up before.
After the draft, Tomlin and General Manager Kevin Colbert talked about how the scouting process can begin even years ahead of a particular draft class. Bush was on the Steelers’ radar, suffice it to say, prior to the 2018 college season.
Bush talked about his relationship with Tomlin in an interview for the team’s website with Missi Matthews after he was drafted. “We definitely hit it off the first time we met”, he said. “We met and we had a lot to relate to. We just talked about life. We kind of just dropped the football and we talked about life and how to be a better person and how you take on different things”.
Whenever the subject arises, Tomlin is quick to speak about his love for the role of leader, mentor, instructor. He embraces the opportunity to instruct young men in all manner of life matters, far beyond football. “To the football part, that’s the part I do well, but Coach Tomlin just talked about being the best man you could be”, Bush said.
Tomlin has borne the title of ‘players’ coach’ for a long time, which with he has a bit of a complicated history because of the connotations that can often arise from it, which he has spoken about publicly before. In its most literal and non-pejorative usage, however, he would certainly be fairly classified as one.
That’s something that Bush was made well aware of before he even got to Pittsburgh, as he talked about soon after he was drafted while speaking to the media following his selection.
“I know Coach Tomlin’s a players’ coach. Just talking to guys that are at the Steelers and hearing through the grapevine, I know he’s a players’ coach, he’s all for his players”, Bush said. “And actually meeting him, I know he’s that. I know he goes hard for his players and he’s also a coach that loves to win, and he’s looking to win”.
On the surface, it sounds like a good match for sure. I can easily envision Bush quickly becoming one of Tomin’s favorites.