You heard it from all across the Pittsburgh Steelers’ vast fan base. They wanted the team to be aggressive in the 2019 NFL Draft. Everyone who followed the pre-draft noise heard about the two biggest names in the draft at the inside linebacker position. I’m talking about the two athletic freaks named Devin White, who went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Devin Bush.
The Steelers did just what the fan base had been longing for, and traded with the Denver Broncos to move up in to draft and select Bush with the 10th overall draft pick. It was the first time the team took a defensive player in the Top 10 pick since they selected Rod Woodson in 1987.
If that wasn’t enough pressure, defensive coordinator Keith Butler spoke openly to the media Wednesday at Mandatory Minicamp about how the Steelers wanted one of the ‘Devins’.
“I’m glad Kevin did what he did, to be honest,” Butler told Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports and other reporters Wednesday during the second day of the minicamp. “We knew what we wanted going into the draft. I think they had a pretty good idea of when (they would go). The guys we wanted were one of the Devins. The first one went early and Kevin did a great job in terms of moving up. To me, what happened the last time we moved up? We got (Troy) Polamalu, and we went to three Super Bowls and won two of them.”
There have been a lot of comparisons regarding draft strategy and movement to get Bush, but the comparison to Troy Polamalu might be the toughest to fathom — at least at this point. Polamalu was a generational talent, and someone who took some time to get acclimated at the NFL level. Bush has yet to even don pads during a training camp practice.
Nonetheless, when Butler talks about how happy he was the Steelers obtained Bush in the draft, he doesn’t want it to come off as a slight to players like Sean Spence, Jon Bostic or even L.J. Fort.
“I’m not going to criticize the guys that were there before,” Butler said. “We needed help there. Kevin did a good job of helping us out there. I’m glad we got him. I hope we can use him and he has success. I think he will. But who knows? You never know until they start playing. They all look good in shorts. It matters when they put those pads on. That’s when we’ll find out.
“There are two things I can’t teach them. One of them is being aggressive. The other is speed. He’s got natural speed in terms of hitting and things like that. That’s something his mother and daddy gave him. I’ll be interested to see what kind of hitter he is.”
Will Bush be able to start from Day 1? The hope is he is ready for that, but having Mark Barron on the roster shouldn’t make this move mandatory. If Bush isn’t ready for the entire defense, he will certainly be used in another capacity, likely in sub package football. Either way, Butler just wants to see what Bush can do.
“I hope it helps us a lot, and I think it will. He’s still got to learn. He’s still a rookie. There will be great expectations from him. And he knows that. That’s OK. In order to be successful in this league, you’ve got to perform under pressure. He’s got that mentality, as well as his coaches.”
Minicamp can be used as a barometer for Bush’s trajectory in 2019, but the true test will be when the team reports to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA on July 25th for their annual training camp. That is when the pads start to pop, and fans and coaches alike will get a real taste for what Devin Bush brings to this team in his first year as a pro.