One of the most important stories for the Pittsburgh Steelers, not just for the 2020 season but really for the next decade, is the development of young inside linebacker Devin Bush. The team gave up second- and third-round picks to move up in the first round in order to have the opportunity to draft him 10th-overall last year, so they made a major investment in him once they identified him as a special player.
A 16-game player and 15-game starter as a rookie last season, he became the first rookie in team history to post triple-digit tackles, in fact leading the team with 109. He also posted a sack, a handful of passes defensed, and also produced six total takeaways, with two interceptions and four fumble recoveries, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He forced one fumble as well.
While he filled up the stat sheet, there was still plenty of room for improvement left over as the former Michigan Wolverine wrapped up his rookie season, and the Steelers are expecting to see a pronounced advancement in their investment beginning in 2020.
“Of course, you want him to make a good jump for us. I think he will because things won’t be new to him”, defensive coordinator Keith Butler told reporters late last week, via a transcript of the interview provided by the team’s media department. “He’s done it before, and when he comes to training camp, we are going to expect more out of him”.
One thing that the Steelers are really eager to see him improve upon is his ability not only to call the defense, but to do so on the field while not relenting in his other responsibilities. While the team pushed this hard last offseason, they ultimately determined it was too much to put on his plate, so the green dot was left to other more veteran players to handle.
“We are going to want him to help make calls and get the communication down. We think he’s capable of doing that”, Butler said. “We think he’s really going to come alive for us a little bit this year. He played well for us last year as a rookie, but once you’ve been there—he’s seen the game a little bit. He knows the speed of the game. He knows what we are going to call for the most part. He’s got an idea of what we are going to expect of him. We’re hopeful that he’s going to be able to have a good year for us this year”.
Bush finished first in the AFC in the fan voting for the Pro Bowl last year, but the players and coaches viewed him differently. Not only was he left off of the Pro Bowl roster, he was not even the first alternate. That went to Tremaine Edmunds, the second-year linebacker for the Bills whose brothers are Bush’s teammates, including starting strong safety Terrell Edmunds.