If Devin Bush is not going to be one of the core pieces of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense, then perhaps they made a mistake in the 2020 NFL Draft. They gave up third natural 20th-overall pick, in addition to their second-round pick and a third-round pick in 2020, in order to move up to the 10th spot in the first round to draft the linebacker out of Michigan.
I don’t think that will be much of a worry, however. He didn’t set the world on fire during his rookie season, but he still showed well. It’s hard to think of an inside linebacker who had a better rookie year in recent times for the Steelers. Kendrell Bell, perhaps?
Bush ultimately finished with 109 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, four recoveries, two interceptions, and four passes defensed. He was an alternate for the Pro Bowl, though not the top alternate, likely, as Tremaine Edmunds is already a replacement for the AFC.
In spite of the fact that almost all of his ‘splash plays’ came in the first half of the season, the Wolverine is happy with the way his year progressed, particularly with regards to where his game was able to go mentally.
“Definitely, I think I’m in the right spot going into 2020, and I think we have something special here”, he told Missi Matthews about finishing up his rookie year and looking ahead to year two. He is already the first rookie in team history to top 100 tackles. I would imagine his six total takeaways ranks quite high as well.
It goes without saying that head coach Mike Tomlin was very much on board with the idea to trade up for Bush, a piece the organization saw as a finishing touch to a rebuilt defense. He is always looking for a big step forward in the second year for his young players, so Matthews asked him what the coach told him.
“He wants to just see me keep growing as a player and see me be the player they drafted me to be and then some. Help them win football games and ultimately win a Super Bowl”, he said. For himself, he said, “I think it’s just being ready. You step into OTAs and you come in and pick up where you left off, just don’t slack off”.
Who will he be lining up next to, though? He ended up playing with Mark Barron, primarily, whom many expect to be a salary cap casualty as they look to lock up Bud Dupree. Presumably, Vince Williams will take up the bulk of the remaining snaps.
Maybe Ulysees Gilbert III or Robert Spillane will absorb some addition snaps, or they will gravitate back toward more dime looks to get the second inside linebacker off the field.