When a team makes a trade to go up and get an earlier selection in a draft, such a move is almost always done with a specific player in mind, especially when such a trade occurs as the draft is unfolding. The majority of these trades occur when the team holding the higher pick is already on the clock.
It’s safe to say that for a team especially like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are historically conservative in this area, to move up 10 spots in the first round, sacrificing their second-round pick and a future third in the process, says a lot about how much they think of the player that they are going up to get.
That is exactly what they did last night in Michigan inside linebacker Devin Bush, who may not have to wait very long before he holds a starting job in the defense. At the very least, he figures to play early, even if in a rotation with Mark Barron and in sub-packages in coverage situations.
The fact that the Steelers made such a bold move to go up and get him was by no means lost on Bush after the fact. “It’s just a testament to me as a player”, he told reporters when he was asked what it meant to him that Pittsburgh did that. “They liked me enough as a player, and also as a person, to feel comfortable enough to trade up and snag me”.
While he said that through his numerous conversations with the Steelers during the pre-draft process that he could recall “they were really high on me” and “they liked me as a player and a person”, he also said that he could not recall them ever expressing any interest or intention during that time of actually trading up to add him to their roster.
The Steelers have an incredibly short but also incredibly successful history of trading up in the first round. They have done it only twice before, but both of the players that they were able to add through their trades played integral roles to contributing at least one Lombardi Trophy to the daunting display case that looms inside of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
Pittsburgh believes that Bush is the sort of player who can play a vital role in turning a team into a championship contender, which is especially important this offseason given that they are coming off a year in which they missed the postseason, even if they still finished with a winning record and at one point late in the year were in a position to secure a first-round bye.
Outside of some anomalies such as the kicking game, the primary difference separating the 2017 team that went 13-3 and the 9-6-1 team of a year ago was the absence of a player like Ryan Shazier. Bush is their attempt of a solution to that problem, and they hope he can help them quickly get right back onto that path leading to a seventh Lombardi Trophy.