You may recall that a few months ago the Pittsburgh Steelers made one of the boldest moves of the offseason when they traded up 10 spots in the first round to draft Devin Bush with the 10th-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. It was the first trade up in the first round the team has made under Head Coach Mike Tomlin over 13 drafts.
They gave up their first- and second-round picks in 2019, plus a third-round pick in 2020, in order to acquire that 10th-overall pick, certainly a price they are not often willing to pay, but they saw in Bush a special player at a position they needed, and they coveted him.
That doesn’t mean they’re going to hand him anything other than an opportunity. It is true that he spent the spring rotating with the first-team defense along with Vince Williams and free agent Mark Barron, but if he is going to start, he is going to have to earn it.
Tomlin was asked about Bush when he spoke to reporters yesterday at the outset of training camp, specifically about what comes next for him, and the veteran head coach pumped the brakes a bit, telling them that “he has a lot to learn. He has a lot to prove”.
While that may well be the case, the reality is that he was given a lot of first-team reps, and he was even granted the opportunity to spend a lot of time calling the defense while playing with the starters, something that not even Ryan Shazier did from the outset.
“He should just take that singular focus in terms of the approach of what he needs to do”, Tomlin said, referencing his leading remarks. “He is going to be given an opportunity to get snaps and he is going to have to take advantage of those things”.
Tomlin emphasized that, relative to his standing as a high draft pick, he can earn himself additional opportunities “in an effort to accelerate the learning process”, but it will hinge upon him demonstrating a high level of conditioning.
Of course, it takes quite a bit to pry a compliment out of Tomlin’s mouth about a rookie when reporters are talking to him, so when he was asked about how Bush looked yesterday with respect to his level of conditioning, all he would say was that “he did not stand out in a negative way”.
It is safe to say that, barring the unforeseen, he is going to be playing this year, but the extent to which he does remains to be seen. He could be a full-time starter and log over 1000 snaps, or he could just get a handful of reps here and there. That will be determined by his maturation over the course of the next several months, a process that begins in earnest right now.