It’s hard not to get sucked into the wave of hope and optimism that is the offseason, especially during OTAs when players take the field. For most positions, they are in an environment in which it is much easier for them to look good and make a positive impression.
That said, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-round draft choice, inside linebacker Devin Bush, has garnered rave reviews so far from pretty much everyone who has been asked of him about pretty much every quality he has shown. The only thing that has been knocked against him is his need to project more as a signal caller, something both Cameron Heyward and Keith Butler mentioned.
Whether it’s T.J. Watt or Ramon Foster or Mason Rudolph or whoever else might have been asked about him at some point over the course of the last three weeks, the on-field sight has been a strong one, with most making some comment in the vein of ‘it’s obvious why he was a first-round pick’.
And that is what you want to hear, of course, if you’re the man who was responsible for drafting him, but General Manager Kevin Colbert remains cautious about what his highest draft choice since Plaxico Burress has exhibited through the bulk of the shorts-based football period.
“I would say it’s way too early to say it’s the ‘it guy’-type thing”, Mike Prisuta recently quoted him as saying of Bush. “We’re in OTAs. We haven’t even gotten to a minicamp or training camp or preseason football, let alone the regular season”.
He wouldn’t be the first player to shine in shorts only to take a step back into reality later on in the offseason where the playing field is more balanced and we get a closer approximation of actual football. Not that anybody is expecting that sort of fate for the Michigan product, but it’s still not a guarantee until you see it.
“When we drafted Devin we liked the skill set. Obviously, he can do a lot of things physically”, Colbert said. “We liked his mental abilities and his ability to be verbal and see things and anticipate. So far you’re seeing those types of things. Whether it continues, we don’t know. We won’t know until the pads come on”.
The thing is, you know that Bush as much as anybody is anticipating getting those pads on for the first time and starting to hit people. He might not be the biggest player on the field, but he certainly doesn’t mind hitting. And he knows that’s where he can really show his diagnostic and athletic acumen.
The Steelers identified him as a player who has transformational potential, somebody who can come in and significantly upgrade the defense. Right now I would argue that he’s tracking to be a day-one full-time starter, or at least close to it, so he should get the opportunity to show that sooner rather than later.