The Pittsburgh Steelers knew that they had a special talent in Devin Bush, which is precisely why they traded up in the first round to get him. The inside linebacker out of Michigan proved to be a plug-and-play starter and has been an impact player as well, registering two interceptions to go along with four fumble recoveries and a sack.
Two of his six takeaways came Sunday night in the Steelers’ victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, during which he recorded his second interception in as many weeks and his fourth fumble recovery. He housed that one for the team’s first defensive score of the year, though he nearly had a touchdown on another fumble recovery earlier. He also finished the game with seven tackles.
It was enough to earn him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for Week Six, his first such distinction of his career, but probably not his last. Through six games, he has 52 tackles on the season to go with the aforementioned numbers, plus a sack and a total of three passes defensed.
.@_Dbush11 has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Week‼️
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 16, 2019
He is putting himself in competition to earn Defensive Rookie of the Year honors by season’s end. In fact, looking around the league, he may well be the frontrunner right now. His six takeaways are not just by far the most among rookies, but more than anybody else in the league. And he is also among the top 10 in tackles recorded, on top of that.
The thing is, Bush has been getting better and better with each passing week. That shouldn’t be in the least bit surprising. He is 21 years old and just starting his career. He told reporters after Sunday’s game that he’d just experienced an opponent shrugging him off for the first time in his career when trying to tackle him, so he’s going to have some growing pains.
He may well follow in the footsteps of Darius Leonard and Leighton Vander Esch, a pair of rookie inside linebackers who made the Pro Bowl last season. I believe Kendrell Bell in 2001, who won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, was the last defensive rookie for the Steelers to go to the Pro Bowl. Maurkice Pouncey was the last rookie overall for the Steelers to receive the honor. There’s still a long way to go, but Bush is trending in that direction.