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 will be a wall-to-wall starter during his rookie season.
Explanation: Pittsburgh has historically been reluctant to play rookies too soon in their careers, but that really hasn’t been the case in the 2010s. Their last two first-round picks, both defenders, started the season openers and finale and 13 games in between, one missing due to injury and the other still heavily rotated in.
I don’t think the scenario in which Devin Bush is stepping is all that much different from that which T.J. Watt and Terrell Edmunds found themselves in the past two years. In some ways, he has an even more favorable situation. Both Watt and Edmunds were regarded as players who would need to develop, but they started right away anyway.
Bush has the same sort of NFL bloodlines as the two previous first-rounders, so he similarly should know what to expect. He even has Hall of Fame mentors who are able to advise him not just on how to be a professional but to play the position he’s playing.
While Mark Barron is a tougher out than Jon Bostic would have been, he was still never going to be anything more than a bridge starter already so close to 30. And he will still have a role in the defense regardless of whether or not he’s on the field for the first snap of the game, so it wouldn’t be a wasted investment.
Just because the last two did it doesn’t mean the next two won’t. Neither Artie Burns nor Bud Dupree started right away. Ryan Shazier did, but perhaps he shouldn’t have, and the same roughly could be said for Jarvis Jones, who started the second game and was eventually demoted before injuries put him back in the lineup.
His bloodlines are also a bit different. Both Watt and Edmunds have brothers who are literally in the league right now. Bush has his father as a former player, who hasn’t been in the league for nearly decades. A lot has changed about how to go about keeping yourself ready to go since then.
He will also be asked to play arguably the most mentally demanding position on the football field short of quarterback, so that isn’t going to do him any favors in terms of making a quick transition from college to the pros.