There was a lot more excitement with this year’s draft class than in years prior. The crown jewel of the draft class, Devin Bush has had sky high expectations attached to his name since the moment the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that they had traded up to get him.
‘Bush or bust’ would be an appropriate way of describing the expectations for the Steelers’ 2019 draft class as a whole. If Bush performed to expectation or even close to it, the entire draft class would be given a passing grade. Well, not only has the rookie linebacker performed pretty well in his first taste of NFL action but numerous other members from this year’s draft class are also contributing.
All three of Bush, Diontae Johnson and Benny Snell Jr. have all helped the Steelers this season with each rookie contributing in a different phase of the game.
When the defense takes the field, all eyes have been on Bush, not just because some have deemed him the saviour of this defense but also because the rookie linebacker has forced his way onto the screen on every play. The former Michigan linebacker has been all over the field so far this season, as his 37 tackles rank first for all rookies and third in the entire AFC. His three fumble recovers are also tied for the NFL lead. Bush’s numbers resemble that of a veteran who has played many years in the NFL but do not be fooled, he has had his fair share of rookie mistakes but each week is a step in the right direction.
The fact that Bush has put up the numbers that he has while still carrying a few scratches on his record should be promising in the eyes of the Steelers. Just imagine what the rookie linebacker’s numbers will look like once he gets some more seasoning in the big leagues.
While Bush has taken care of the defense, Johnson has taken the Steelers’ offense by storm over the last two weeks. Over the last two weeks, no rookie receiver has put up more receptions (9) or receiving yards (129) than Johnson. After the demotion and failure of Donte Moncrief, the Steelers were in need of a receiver to play the X position and Johnson has locked down the role. His elusive and nifty route running ability has added a new dynamic to a Steelers’ offense that has looked very bland at times.
Some people may forget the importance of special teams but Benny Snell is here to remind us just how important special teams is not just to the makeup of a game but also in player development. Snell has been a big part of the Steelers’ special teams’ unit, playing over 60-percent of the snaps while also recording two tackles. Those special teams’ contributions have also allowed Snell to remain active on gamedays.
When it comes to special teams’ contributions, it would be hard not to mention sixth round pick Ulysees Gilbert III. The rookie linebacker has been a mainstay on the unit, playing over 84-percent of the team’s special teams’ snaps.
Whether it be on offense, defense or special teams, the Steelers are receiving significant contributions from their 2019 draft class. The best part is that the rookies are just getting started. Just one quarter into their rookie seasons, Bush, Johnson, Snell and Gilbert have only just started putting the touches on what is hopefully a long career in the black and gold.