At the 2019 scouting combine in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh Steelers rookie linebacker Devin Bush measured in at 5110, 234-pounds. Since then and much to the chagrin of his biggest critics, it’s very, very doubtful that Bush has added any height and thus he’s still termed by many as being an undersized NFL inside linebacker. Bush, however, is very used to hearing questions about his height and he said as much during his Thursday morning interview on 93.7 The Fan.
“Yeah actually it’s funny, I’ve been called small or too little, or undersized, you know, since I started playing the game of football,” Bush said Thursday “And that’s something that’s kind of just been attached to me, you know, going through high school and then going through college and, you know, the pre-draft process. So, I mean it’s something I’m familiar with.”
While Bush is very familiar with being called undersized by now, he’s probably also very familiar with being called fast and especially since he ran his 40 yard dash in 4.44-seconds at the scouting combine. He confirmed on Thursday that because he has long been labelled as an undersized player that he knew he would have to offset that with overall speed and quickness.
“Yeah, it was just that they say I lack the size, that I’ve got to be great In other areas so speed was obviously a big area for me and quickness and strength was also a big area for me. So, taking that seriously, you know, having that speed allows me to get a quicker step on a lot of people and then you know, and surprise people with how fast I am. Because you can look at me and say, hey, he’s too small, or he’s too this, but then it’s like, oh my God, he’s fast.”
Bush’s last two year’s of Michigan college tape is filled with him using that speed and quickness of his to go North, South, East and West to make plays. He processes quickly as a defensive player and that’s not overly surprising due to his NFL bloodline as his father was also a former NFL first-round draft who played eight seasons with three different teams as a safety. Bush admitted on Thursday that his father, Devin Bush Sr., has been his biggest critic and motivator throughout his football career.
“I think he’s my biggest critic,” Bush said of his father. “There have been times where I felt like I made a super play, or I did the best job I can do, and he’s like, ‘Well I think you kind of messed up. I think you could have done this differently and the end would have been a lot better. But it’s still a good play, but it would have been a lot better.’ So he never really gave me the full one hundred percent credit unless it was just a super unbelievable play and that’s probably like if I get like a sack and it goes up in the air and I catch it and I break five tackles to score to win the game. That’s probably the only time he would say, ‘oh, that’s a great play.’ But in that, you know, he’s always looking to put me over the top and push me beyond my limits.”
Ahead of this year’s draft, I wrote about Bush’s measurables and how they closely resemble those of former NFL inside linebacker Ernie Sims, who was selected ninth overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. Sims went on to play in and start all 16 games during his rookie season with the Lions on his way to registering a team-best 124 total tackles to go along with half a sack, a forced fumble and a pass defensed as a weakside linebacker. His play that year even resulted in him being named to the 2006 NFL All-Rookie Team. In his first three seasons in the NFL as a member of the Lions, Sims played in every regular season game on his way to tallying 371 total tackles and only three other players, London Fletcher, DeMeco Ryans and Kirk Morrison registered more than him during that span.
To date, the offseason progress reports on Bush have been very good and those have included several of his Steelers teammates and coaches highlighting how easy it is to recognize his speed and overall quickness. With his rookie training camp and preseason yet to go, Bush seems to be on course to start the Steelers regular season opener against the New England Patriots. While he might be a bit undersized for an NFL inside linebacker, his speed, along with his overall physical style of play, really seems to help offset that. Bush also now firmly believes that his skill sets and what he does best really fit in with the style of defense and scheme the Steelers now play and that’s got him really charged up.
“Oh, very excited about it,” Bush said about playing in the Steelers defense. It just gives you the chance to have your athletes do what athletes do best and that’s make plays. You know, everybody’s got their eyes to the ball and everybody’s got their own assignment. So, I mean, at the end of the day, it’s see ball, get ball and that’s what we’re going to play.”