Let me be crystal clear here. I love this pick. Even though you had to trade up – there was no other way – being aggressive for Devin Bush was the right move. Kevin Colbert admitted the team hadn’t done a good enough job in replacing Ryan Shazier. That was stating the obvious.
They rectified that problem tonight. Bush is scheme proof. Cover? Check. Play the run? Oh yeah. Blitz? Yes sir. And (and!) he called the defense at Michigan, a crucial role and responsibility for anyone who wants to play three downs in the NFL.
So let’s check out exactly what Devin Bush can do…
Range Vs The Run
Bush is a good processor who takes the right angles and has the speed to defend perimeter runs. Take this play against Nebraska. Reads his keys, following the backside left guard pulling and flowing laterally. While he doesn’t make the tackle, he’s able to turn the back inside, acting like the force defender, and spilling the runner to his help. The play goes for just a minimal gain.
Watch the backside pursuit again. Inside zone run to the right. Bush comes in unblocked with the speed to close before the running back can plant and get upfield. There’s a lane there if Bush is unable to close the gap but he makes the play at the line of scrimmage.
One of his top plays in coverage. Doesn’t take the cheese on the playfake and split zone action by the tight end. Zone assignment, no one in his window, so he smartly begins to get depth with the athleticism to drop. Eyes on the QB, feels the route behind him, then finishes by high pointing the football and making the pick.
Here’s another of my favorite reps. Doesn’t show up in a box score at all but an impact play. Bush again getting depth in zone, the speed to carry #2 down the seam (and that’s WR Parris Campbell, who runs 4.31). Gets his head around to find the football and force a tough throw over him. Pass falls incomplete. That’s Bush making the play, 100%.
How about covering backs? That’s obviously key. Watch him to the bottom of the play. Initially outleveraged by the running back running a flare route but has the speed to make up for it. Closes in time as the back makes the catch and doesn’t allow a lick of YAC. Creates a 3rd and long.
Same thing here against SMU. It’s late in the game, Michigan is up big and going to win, easy to take this play off and be lazy. Step-for-step with the back out in the flat. Look at the dude finish. Uncoil his hips, head to the side with eyes up, rise up with power, and run his feet to carry the running back out of bounds. Excellent play from start to finish.
One more. Going to face some mobile QBs in the AFC North in Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson. Guys who can extend the play. Dwayne Haskins isn’t that, let’s be clear, but he leaves the pocket on this snap. Bush finds the running back, carries him as he extends his route vertical, and is in his hip pocket. Doesn’t look back for the ball but I like that. Stay in-phase, keep the coverage tight, and Haskins throws the pass off Bush’s helmet for a near interception.
Something Bush did plenty of under defensive coordinator Don Brown. 10 sacks the last two years. And something he’ll do in Pittsburgh. Blitz against Notre Dame. Shoot the A gap, beat the center before he can slide over, and finish the play with a sack.
This looks like a freakin’ Steelers blitz. Fire stunt with #59 crashing into the A gap with Bush looping behind into the B gap (where the Steelers’ ILBs most commonly blitz from). Speed to fly in, close the gap, and finish the play. If you’re wondering, there’s Chase Winovich too because he literally shows up on every play.
Same idea as this Vince Williams sack from 2017 against the Bengals. Cam Heyward slides down, Vince shoots the B gap. Creates the lane.
Colbert needed to be aggressive. I assumed they would make an attempt to trade up and if so, Bush was going to be their guy. They have their linebacker of the future. And I can’t wait to watch him play.