Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown was a very proud coach over the weekend as four of his former players wound up being selected in the first 79 picks of the 2019 NFL Draft. Of those four former Michigan defensive players, linebacker Devin Bush was the highest one drafted this year as the Pittsburgh Steelers traded up to the No. 10 spot in the first-round to select him. On Friday, Brown was a guest on SiriusXM College Sports and he was asked during his long interview to explain what separates Bush from some of the other football players that he’s been around during his long coaching career.
“The one thing that he was able to do for us, he was like the human eraser,” Brown said Bush. “So, for example, if someone was going to get into the empty sets and take the running back and put him out as a receiver and if that guy had pass receiving qualities, there’s a certain degree of linebackers that you don’t want out there. But with a guy like Devin Bush, you could put him out on anybody and would feel confident that he could handle the task. So he’s kind of a human eraser or in that respect that he could go out and cover anybody. Because, again, kind of like his daddy, he had safety-type coverage skills.”
Bush’s great ability to cover as a linebacker wasn’t the only asset that Brown bragged about Friday night as he also believes his former inside linebacker will be a great player in the NFL against the run as well.
“Equally on the other side of that coin, if you’re going to run the ball on first and 10, whether it be inside, or in any of the inside pattern run blocking schemes, he [Bush] was going to be up to the task because he was the most prepared guy in the building to defend those runs,” Brown said. “And if they [other teams] tried to get on the perimeter, he’s got that God-given ability to run 4.4 and basically can do things that other linebackers can’t do because of his God given ability to run fast, which is a beautiful thing.”
Speed certainly is a beautiful thing and definitely can’t be coached. Last season, the middle of the Steelers defense lacked that interior speed with linebacker Ryan Shazier missing the entire year with his spinal injury. On Monday, during an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was asked about a quote he made ahead of the combine in which he stated that the organization didn’t do a good enough job last season when it came to their attempt to replace an injured Shazier on defense.
“When you lose a player like Ryan Shazier, who had become one of the best inside linebackers in the league, and not only in the league, but in today’s league, which demands speed and athleticism at that position over any other attribute, it was huge,” Colbert said. “And to say that anybody could replace him, I think would be a mistake. But you know, again, when I was referencing that, that we didn’t do a good enough job, I wasn’t talking about anybody individually on our team. What I was talking about, the result of the season was 9-6-1 and a non playoff. And so in essence, we didn’t do our jobs and part of that was making sure that we try to sufficiently replace Ryan and I don’t think we did last year. Again, as a result, that’s what we had to work for toward this season.”
Colbert was asked Monday to discuss Bush already saying during his post-selection interviews that he already knows what is expected from him in Pittsburgh and how he essentially knows that he has big shoes to fill when it comes to the team not having Shazier a second-consecutive season.
“And he’s not only a very talented player, but he’s got great football character,” Colbert said of Bush. “Obviously, being in a family with a father who was a first-round pick and Super Bowl champion, Devin Sr., I’m sure helped, but then to play at the University of Michigan and really in a pro style defense that was very demanding. And I thought it was a very good defense, and not only to play in it and thrive in it, but to also be the leader of a group of players that, there’s NFL players on that defense and obviously two we’re picked in the first-round. And for him to be the unquestioned leader of that group was very evident to us and we really valued that.”