Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 first-round draft pick T.J. Watt is the younger brother of three-time Houston Texans Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, as well as of Los Angeles Chargers fullback Derek Watt. 2018 first-round pick Terrell Edmunds is the son of Pro Bowl tight end Ferrell Edmunds, the older brother to running back Trey Edmunds, now also with the Steelers, and older brother to Tremaine Edmunds, who was also selected in the first round last year by the Buffalo Bills.
Pittsburgh’s first-round draft pick last night, Devin Bush, Jr., is the son of Devin Bush, Sr., and is also the godson of Derrick Brooks. Are you noticing the pattern here?
The Steelers’ last three first-round picks come from football bloodlines. Proven football bloodlines. It’s not new that this is something that they value where applicable, but to see it come three years in a row with their top pick is striking.
With Bush, the ties go even deeper. Bush, Sr. played his final two seasons of his eight-year career with the Cleveland Browns, during which time the safety would have been familiar with Keith Butler, the Steelers’ defensive coordinator, who was Cleveland’s linebackers coach at the time.
And surely you would be well aware of the fact that Mike Tomlin was on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coaching staff during the same time that Brooks, a Hall of Fame linebacker, was also with the organization. That’s two additional connections to the team’s latest first-round pick that likely played a role in their understanding of the man that gave them comfort in moving up to get him. Brooks and Bush, Sr. were best friends while rooming together at Florida State. Both Bush, Sr. and Brooks experienced the taste of a Super Bowl championship, Bush winning with the St. Louis Rams and Brooks obviously with the Buccaneers, along with Tomlin.
Watt’s father may not have played in the NFL, but he served as a firefighter for a quarter of a century, and clearly his and his wife’s genes were sufficient to produce elite NFL talent. Ferrell Edmunds, too, produced a pair of first-round draft picks and three sons in the NFL altogether, and he himself was a third-round draft pick.
As for Devin, Sr., like his son, he originally was a first-round draft pick, and he would play in the Super Bowl during his rookie contract with the Atlanta Falcons, although he was not starting that season (he did the previous two years, and would return to a starting role when the Rams won the Super Bowl two years later).
Outside of the obviously improved chances of having sufficient genes to make it in the NFL, adding players who come from a football family means that you are bringing a player into the group who likely grew up around the game and is going to know what it takes to be a professional before he even steps into the building.
This background helped both Watt and Edmunds become immediate day-one starters in each of the past two seasons, reporting as highly-conditioned athletes and knowing how to take care of their bodies. There is no reason to expect anything different from Bush.