Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: ILB Devin Bush
Stock Value: Up
Yet another guy that we haven’t talked about in this series in a good long while, well before there was even a pandemic, it’s time to revisit Devin Bush as he heads into his second season. The Steelers’ first-round draft pick in 2019, whom they traded up for in perhaps the boldest draft move in team history, the Michigan linebacker is expected to be a lynchpin of this defense for the next 10 to 15 years.
As a rookie, Bush played in 16 games, officially starting 15. He led the team with 109 tackles, the first rookie in team history to hit triple digits. He also finished with two interceptions, a forced fumble, four fumble recoveries, a defensive touchdown, nine tackles for loss, a sack, and four passes defensed.
He did a nice job of filling the statline, but he did lack consistency over the course of the year, and that’s where he should be expected to grow in year two. In the second half of last season, the Steelers scaled back his snaps some. This year, he will most likely play 1000-plus snaps, provided that he is healthy. He still managed close to 900 as a rookie.
And he has talked this offseason about how he wants to get better, both on and off the field, learning and understanding more about how to be a professional, how to be a leader. He has no hesitation about being a guy who is on the field for every snap if necessary and feels that he is prepared to take on that role.
The biggest difference for Bush from 2019 to 2020 figures to be the presumption of his taking on defensive communication responsibilities. The team was hoping that he could be the signal-caller as a rookie, and they even pushed him early on to prepare him for that role.
It ultimately didn’t develop to a level that they could be satisfied with it not taking away from his play, but with a year under his belt, he will be ready. And that should help the entire unit find cohesion and to make adjustments to put themselves in the best position to stop their opponents.