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Devin Bush vs. Devin White: A one year retrospective

Sharing a name, position, and draft class, both Devins will likely always be linked to one another.

The 2019 draft had numerous storylines, but like any given year those stories can't have an ending until the players actually hit the field. One of those storylines was that between the top two linebackers; Michigan’s Devin Bush, and Louisiana State’s Devin White. They shared their first name, shared a position, they were 2018 consensus All-Americans, and Top-10 NFL draft prospects. The players will forever be linked to one another, and will be directly ranked against each other for the rest of their careers.

One year later, both players are the centerpiece of their respected defenses who made a big impact as rookies. But who has the edge in their early careers? Today I'm going to compare both Devins in some key categories and try to determine who has the edge one year in.


Individual statistics

Devin Bush appeared in three more games than Devin White in 2019 due to an MCL sprain suffered in Week 2. While missing games will be factored into this category, we will look at each players average statistics per game.

Starting off with the Steelers’ Devin Bush. In 16 games Bush averaged:
6.8 Tackles, 0.06 sacks, 0.13 QB hits, 0.56 Tackles for loss, 0.13 Ints, 0.25 Passes defended, 0.06 Forced fumbles, 0.25 Fumble recoveries, 0.06 Touchdowns

Next, Tampa Bay’s Devin White, in 13 games White averaged:
7 Tackles, 0.12 sacks, 0.38 QB hits, 0.31 Tackles for loss, 0.08 Ints, 0.23 Passes defended, 0.23 Forced fumbles, 0.31 Fumble recoveries, 0.15 Touchdowns

The statistics are nearly identical with White holding the edge in six of nine of the listed categories. Factoring in the White missing three games due too injury, and just how tight these numbers are, I debated considering this a tie but Devin White scoring a pair of touchdowns pushes him slightly ahead of Bush.

Edge: Slightly Devin White


Game changing plays

Both Devin Bush and Devin White took control of games throughout their respective rookie seasons. Both found their way into the end zone, and seemingly had the ball in their hands on a weekly basis. But who did the most?

Lets start this one with the Buccaneers Devin White:

  • 4th quarter Forced Fumble Week 9 vs Seahawks.
    White forced his second fumble of the game when the Seahawks were driving mid fourth quarter with the score tied at 24. Jameis Winston would lose a grip of the football on the ensuing Buccaneers drive. Tampa Bay would lose the game 40-34 in overtime.
  • Scoop and score touchdown Week 13 vs Jaguars
    Late in the first quarter, White would recover a Shaq Barrett forced fumble and take it all the way back for a touchdown against a reeling Jaguars team. White’s touchdown would prove to be the game winning points as the Buccaneers won the game 28-11.
  • 91 yard fumble recovery touchdown Week 17 vs Falcons
    Nearing the end of the first half, Falcons quarterback, Matt Ryan would have the ball knocked out of his hand into the awaiting arms of Devin White. White returned the ball 91 yards to the house, a score which would see the Buccaneers overtake the lead. The Buccaneers would lose the game 28-22 when Jameis Winston threw a pick-6 in overtime.

Now lets look at Devin Bush’s biggest plays:

  • Scooping up a Philip Rivers lateral for a touchdown Week 6 vs Chargers
    At the start of the Steelers prime time game against the Chargers, Philip Rivers threw an errant pass laterally across the field. A quick-witted Bush picked up the fumble and returned the ball for a touchdown. The Steelers would win this game 24-17
  • Over the shoulder interception of the league MVP Week 5 vs Ravens
    Mid way through the third quarter the Steelers trailed the Ravens 17-13, and Baltimore was driving down into Steelers’ territory. Lamar Jackson would throw a lob pass down the seem to tight end Nick Boyle, but Devin Bush would rip the ball out of Boyles hand for the interception. The Steelers would lose 26-23 in overtime
  • Clutch forced fumble in Cincinnati Week 12 vs Bengals
    With the Steelers leading 13-10 with 8 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd caught a pass that would take the Bengals within the Steelers 5 yard line. Before being tackled, Devin Bush punched the ball out of Boyd’s hands and Minkah Fitzpatrick recovered. The Steelers would win the game 16-13.

While both players made highlight reel plays all season long, when Devin Bush made those plays the Steelers typically won the game.

EDGE: Slightly Devin Bush


Impact to their team

This category is simple, which player improved its defense the most compared to the previous season? While yes, both the Steelers and Bucs made other moves to help its defense in 2019 the Devins were in the middle of it all, and teams tried to pick on the rookies early on in their career.

Lets start this one with Devin Bush and compare the Steelers 2018 defense to its 2019 version:

Rushing allowed yards per game
2018: 98
2019: 109.6

Passing allowed yards per game
2018: 231.1
2019: 194.6

Points allowed per game
2018: 22.5
2019: 18.9

Third down conversion percentage
2018: 36.5%
2019: 36.4%

Team record
2018: 9-6-1
2019: 8-8

And Finally lets look at how the Buccaneers defense faired with Devin White at Mack backer.

Rushing allowed yards per game
2018: 123.9
2019: 73.8

Passing allowed yards per game
2018: 259.4
2019: 270.1

Points allowed per game
2018: 29.0
2019: 25.6

Third down conversion percentage
2018: 40.3%
2019: 34.4%

Team record
2018: 5-11
2019: 7-9

Both the Steelers and Bucs defenses improved immensely in 2019. The Bucs were typically playing shootout style games surrender few rushing yards per game but a lot through the air. The Steelers, on the other hand, played mostly slobber knocker grind’em out style that saw their defense surrender more rushing yards and few passing. These results are as should be expected in both scenarios. However, the Buccaneers defense went from one of the NFL’s worst units in 2018 to one that should feature near the top of the league in 2020. Their improvement since drafting Devin White is greater than the one the Steelers have made since acquiring Devin Bush, hence Devin White taking this category.

Edge: Slightly Devin White


Conclusion

Both Devin White and Devin Bush are primed to break out as superstars in the NFL In 2020. Both the Buccaneers and the Steelers are quite happy with the players they have drafted. That being said, if the Buccaneers had to redraft their 2018 5th overall pick they would still take Devin White. White, by the slimmest of margins, was the better player in 2019. Their rankings could shift on a week-to-week basis depending on who makes the miraculous play that week.

This competition will be fun to follow through out the rest of their careers, and it will be interesting to put their stats up against one another in 10 years.

What do you think? Who is the best Devin in your opinion? Let us know down in the comments below!