There are just some years in which it almost feels like an inevitability that the Pittsburgh Steelers, provided that they get the opportunity, will draft a specific player in the first round. I recall that sense in 2010 with center Maurkice Pouncey, and again in 2011 with Cameron Heyward, the son if Craig ‘Ironhead’ Heyward, who has very much forged his own legacy.
There was a bit of that sense in 2012 with David DeCastro as well, but it was a dicey proposition that he would fall to them. He did, and he has become a perennial Pro Bowler since then. Jarvis Jones was the same story pre-draft, but the opposite post-draft.
You’ll notice that a lot of these instances came when they had higher draft picks in the teens. It’s easier to have that player of fate when you have fewer teams to compete with. The Steelers draft at 20 this year, which makes it harder to do, but if there is one for 2019, that seems to be Michigan linebacker Devin Bush.
And Pro Football Focus has provided us with yet another mock draft that pegs him to Pittsburgh. Published yesterday, Steve Palazzolo and Mike Renner alternated selections functioning as each team’s general manager, and that process led to Bush being available for the Steelers at 20.
It was Renner who made the selection for the Steelers, calling Bush a player who “can cover ground and adds coverage to the linebacking corps”, which arguably just lost its best coverage player in free agency with L.J. Fort signing elsewhere.
“The way this has set up, there’s one pick that makes a ton of sense’, he said on the podcast. “Perfect fit for them defensively. They’ve been missing, dearly, athleticism in the middle of that defense ever since Ryan Shazier had his injury. Devin Bush is that level of an athlete, and I think can add some form of blitzing perspective too that they can use in that defense, and will use”.
For what it’s worth, the team mocked quarterback Dwayne Haskins to the Cincinnati Bengals at 11. That’s certainly not an impossibility, but if Zac Taylor is comfortable with Andy Dalton—or if he doesn’t think Haskins can be better—they’re not going to address the quarterback position. They also had Devin White going 10th to the Denver Broncos.
There isn’t going to be a ton of disputing the fit with Bush. If he’s there at 20, it does make a lot of sense, both on the field and based on the team’s interest. They pretty much sent the entire organization to his Pro Day.
The real question is whether or not he is going to be available to them at 20, or even within range of a trade-up scenario that they would be willing to entertain. That also depends upon their view of the position beyond the top two players. Last year, when they missed out on the top four, they passed on it entirely for the remainder of the draft.