Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: ILB Devin Bush
Stock Value: Up
It certainly seems as though rookie first-round draft pick Devin Bush is getting better and better with each passing week. While he has been consistently putting up statistics week in and week out—he leads all rookies with 45 tackles, well on pace for over 100, with a sack, an interception, two passes defensed, and three fumble recoveries—he has been performing better on a seemingly weekly basis.
Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens was certainly one of his better games, during which he recorded eight more tackles to go along with an interception, a diving, acrobatic effort down the field, though I still believe the ball hit the ground before he was able to gain control of it.
According to Pro Football Reference, Bush has allowed 19 of 24 passes in his target area to be caught so far this year, but for 145 yards, an average of six yards per target. He has blitzed nine times and generated two pressures, including his sack, though he is also credited with missing five tackles on the year.
But what we are really seeing is a young player playing quicker and quicker above the neck. While he is not currently wearing the green dot, he is serving as a major hub of communication for the defense, and has displayed the ability to read keys and relay information to his teammates based on what he is seeing, even helping others to make plays.
These are the sorts of things the Steelers were expecting to be able to get out of Bush when they made the big trade to go up and get him during the draft back in April. The fact that we are seeing him putting everything together just five games into his career is very encouraging.
That’s not to say by any means that he is already a complete player, and he is far from a finished product. He is still working through the process of transitioning from college-level competition to the professional level, and that’s going to show up sometimes. But he is clearly a valuable asset to this team already who will continue to get better over the coming weeks and years.