As much as ever, teams are trying to get their rookies on the field as quickly as possible. It’s at least in part a byproduct of the rookie wage scale that was installed during the last round of CBA negotiations, which was in theory supposed to be angled toward allowing more fringe veterans to have longer careers, but really just boosted the salaries of the top players. Teams try to get maximum value out of players on rookie contracts and then bring in the next batch, building young rosters around a small handful of core, highly-compensated players.
Anyway, that’s not really the point. The point is the number of rookies who are actively playing these days makes it pretty competitive to win one of the end-of-season awards. But the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-round pick, Devin Bush, might have a shot, and those on the outside are beginning the think so as well following his 10-tackle preseason debut.
Teammate Ryan Shazier, who has been helping him in any way he can this offseason, thinks he has a shot as well, or at least that he will get close. But the bottom line is that he thinks Bush is going to have a strong rookie season for this defense, as he said during a recent appearance on the NFL Network.
I think Devin’s gonna have a great year. He’s been showing amazing progress every day while he’s been in camp. You’ve seen him play, he had 10 tackles in the first half. Sometimes it’s hard for people to get 10 tackles in two games. I think he’s gonna make a lot of splash for us. He’s gonna be a big-time player for us. I don’t want to put too much expectation on him, but I know one of his goals is to win Defensive MVP, and I’m gonna do whatever I can to help him out and I don’t think he’s gonna be that far away from it, so I think he’s gonna have a great year.
The Steelers traded their 20th-overall pick, in addition to their 2019 second-rounder and 2020 third-rounder, to acquire the 10th-overall selection from the Denver Broncos to select the inside linebacker out of Michigan.
They made this very bold draft move—the first trade up in the first round under Mike Tomlin—after having already signed Mark Barron in free agency, who has clearly provided an athletic upgrade over what they had inside last season.
Tomlin elected to hold Bush out of the team’s second preseason game while nursing a minor injury, but he is expected to be back out there tomorrow with the starting defense against the Tennessee Titans, so it will be good to see how he commands the unit against a tougher assignment.