The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t have too much ammunition to load up on college players during the 2020 NFL Draft. But that was okay. They gave up first- and third-round draft picks from their class as part of deals that led to them acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick and Devin Bush, the former an All-Pro safety, and the latter a guy who is likely going to be a future Pro Bowler and heart and soul of their defense.
A junior out of Michigan, the Steelers moved up from 20 in the first round of the draft to 10 in order to get him, sending their second-round pick last year and third-round pick this year in order to acquire him. He became a day-one starter and logged over 800 snaps.
In the process, he became the first rookie in team history to record 100 or more tackles, leading the team with 108. He also had a sack, a handful of passes defensed, a forced fumble, two interceptions, and four fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown. While he led the AFC Pro Bowl fan voting for inside linebackers, he ultimately did not make it.
His time will come, though. He showed a lot of who he is going to be in the future, but nobody should have expected a finished product right out of the gate. His athleticism was evident, but he still has more to learn, both pre-snap and especially in zone coverage, but that will come as it did for Ryan Shazier.
For his part, he was just happy to come out of his rookie season unscathed. He played nearly 900 snaps on defense and another 60 or so on special teams, and he hardly even got nicked throughout the year. His availability was definitely a strong trait.
“Walking out of last season, I was just proud and happy that I finished my first season healthy, and I was able to walk away and not have anything happen to me”, he told reporters after the draft. “I didn’t have to have any surgeries or extra rehab, anything like that. As far as a part I really want to work on in my game is, just becoming a better NFL player, and off the field as well. Just get better with being a professional and carry myself that way”.
The son of a former first-round pick himself, Devin Bush, Sr., he isn’t just a second-generation athlete, but also a coach’s son, because his father coached him at every level of football until he reached the NFL, now on his own.
It’s no surprise that he also puts a high priority on making sure that he understands what it takes to be a professional in his career, and to be a better person just in life in general, especially in the life of a young and affluent athlete. It’s hard to see him going off the rails any time soon.