The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Devin Bush will be a Pro Bowler outright in 2020.
Explanation: When it comes to the inside linebacker position, it’s a lot harder than most to crack the All-Pro list, so I think that might be too ambitious a goal for Devin Bush in 2020. However, I think reaching the Pro Bowl outright, rather than as an alternate, is a more than reasonable goal for the first-round pick in his second season.
The last time the Steelers had a linebacker like this, he made a big jump from year one to year two. That would be Ryan Shazier, and Shazier is still around, watching over Bush and his development. Considering he was just a rookie, he had a very good year in 2019 already, with over 100 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble, and a sack. Fumble recoveries are more variable, but at least his four shows that he is around the ball.
There were clearly issues with him during his rookie season in the capacity of needing more time to learn and develop. They scaled back his snaps as the year went on, limited his responsibility in the communication of the defense, and he struggled in zone coverage. All of those things he should be able to catch up to by next year without issue, and assuming he does, he will certainly be one of the best inside linebackers in the AFC.
There is no reason to be sure of this. For one thing, there are some good linebackers in the AFC, such as Darius Leonard, including those who barely got the chance to play in 2019. See, for example, C.J. Mosley, who was a perennial Pro Bowler before injuries took him out last season.
Others like Tremaine Edmunds are on the cusp of breaking out. He hasn’t made a Pro Bowl yet, but you’d have to give him the odds over Bush to make it next season, at least before factoring in potential voting bias.