The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Devin Bush should take the first snaps on defense at OTAs.
Explanation: Bush has the potential to be the most significant addition the Steelers have made in the draft in years. He was drafted at a position at which there is no incumbent. They are very high on his football character and intelligence and know that he knows how to train as a professional and all the defense.
Yes. Get it started as soon as possible. Bush is going to be an every-down player and the quickest way to get there is to play every down, doing so with the players you’re actually going to be playing with. They afforded Ryan Shazier that same luxury and the only reason he didn’t have a huge rookie impact is because he got injured half a dozen times or so.
Bush is shorter but built a little thicker, so I’m not particularly worried about any sort of increased injury risk. As long as he can figure out how to wade through the trash in the trenches and not get caught up in it the way Shazier did early on in his career, that shouldn’t be a concern.
Mark Barron might be nice and all, but the Mack isn’t going to be his long-term role, and if Bush can handle it from the get-go, he should. It’s not like the team would be taking anything away from him, since he’s yet to ever have a practice with the defense.
Barron might not be the incumbent, but he is a more than competent veteran who was brought in knowing that he could start. They have seen him in NFL games playing against NFL competition. The only NFL talent Bush has competed against so far has been rookies and first-year players, few of whom have ever even been on a 53-man roster for a single game.
Let Bush earn it first by proving that he’s capable of handling it. While this isn’t primarily about paying respect to a veteran player like Barron, it’s not a bad side effect either. It’s also a nod to team morale. And you don’t want veteran free agents to think they’ll be so easily replaced. Just look at Morgan Burnett from last year to this year. He ended up asking for his release. You don’t want that reputation.