The Pittsburgh Steelers’ highest natural draft pick in a long time came after a, 8-8 season in 2013, giving them the 15th-overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. They elected to use that selection on Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier. It took him a couple of years and working through injuries, but he developed into a top-flight, Pro Bowl player.
The Steelers are hoping to duplicate Shazier’s success, perhaps with an accelerated rate of growth, with Devin Bush, the player they traded up 10 spots for in the first round to select with the 10th-overall pick in April.
After they drafted Bush, General Manager Kevin Colbert recalled the selection of Shazier as them seeing themselves jumping out in front of a curve they sensed was coming, with a shift toward the athletic inside linebacker. One can easily see Shazier as a top-five pick if he came out of this year’s draft class, rather than in the middle of the round.
While he’s not out on the field participating, however, he remains everpresent, not just for his team, but perhaps especially for their latest young potential star in Bush. The rookie recently sat down—in a golf cart—with Missi Matthews to talk about a number of topics during a recent training camp session on the team’s website.
One question that she asked him was about the role that Shazier has played in his early development. Head Coach Mike Tomlin was asked a similar question earlier, and his response was that Bush would be a better person to ask, so there you have it.
“He’s everything you want in a veteran”, he told Matthews. “He constantly stays in contact with you, no matter if it’s on the field, off the field. ‘How’re you doing? Do you need anything? Let me know. I’m willing, I’m here’. Just to have a guy that’s gone through what you’re going through” has been a tremendous help, Bush said.
“He was a first-round pick, he was highly-rated coming out of college, he did play. He did do all those great things that he did during his time here, and you get to chance to pick the brain of somebody and learn from the experiences of someone who did it. It’s been very unique to have that guy with us at all times”.
The Steelers are not outright saying it, but it’s clear that the expectation is for him to start right away, and likely to be an every-down player. The team has had three defensive first-round picks in a row, assuming Bush follows suit, become wall-to-wall starters from the get go, with T.J. Watt making the Pro Bowl in his second year. Let’s hope they can continue that progression with Bush and Terrell Edmunds in 2019.