The Pittsburgh Steelers value their draft picks, and this is common knowledge. Obviously, there is a hierarchy even within those players drafted by the Steelers. The organization will give these players every chance to prove their abilities before cutting ties with the players.
Since the NFL started the 5th year option for first round draft picks, only four names haven’t had their option picked up:
And now you can add Devin Bush to that list.
Bush enters the final year of his rookie contract looking to prove to the Steelers, and any other team, he is fully recovered from his torn ACL in 2020 and would be a great addition to a roster. Whether that roster is Pittsburgh or elsewhere has yet to be seen, but the Steelers’ coaching staff isn’t about to pull the plug on Bush.
“It was a long year for all of us,” ILB coach Jerry Olsavsky acknowledged during minicamp. “We fought through. Even in the Kansas City (playoff) game, he [Devin Bush] ended up with an interception. He probably wasn’t happy with us losing but, hey, just gotta keep fighting.”
According to Olsavsky, Bush has been at all available workouts this offseason, and has looked good throughout the process. Olsavsky even cited a big play made during workouts in Phase 3 of Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
“He’s been here (at OTAs and Mandatory Veteran Minicamp), looked pretty good. He made a nice play the other day that a lot of people won’t see, but as coaches we see. That’s what we’re here for. He’s gonna work and work hard to get back.”
The biggest issue most fans have of Bush, outside of the team trading up into the Top 10 to get him, is his lack of size. Everyone who watched games in 2021 saw Bush get pushed around by offensive linemen climbing to the second level. But Olsavsky, who has played the game at its highest level, reminded everyone how stopping the run isn’t a one-man job.
“Stopping the run is a seven- or eight-man proposition up front,” Olsavsky added. “When you lose guys it makes it more difficult. But the standard is to stop the run. The standard isn’t last year. The standard is the years previous, Top 10 run defense, that’s the standard. We all understand that and we’re all upset that we didn’t reach that but we’re gonna do everything we can to get back there.”
If there is a coach who knows the most about Bush, it’s Olsavsky, and he is excited to see how the young man responds.
“Devin Bush is a great player,” Olsavsky said. “Sometimes people have good years, some people have bad years, good pays, bad plays. But the measure of you is how you respond to adversity, we know that our whole lives.
“When you get hit, you gotta stand back up. I know Devin and I’m confident he’s gonna step up.”
If there is a caveat to this situation is the addition of Brian Flores to the team’s coaching staff. Flores is labeled as a linebackers coach, so he will be working with both the inside and outside linebackers. So far, he is pleased with the versatility at both positions.
“There is a lot of versatility within the group,” Flores said speaking at minicamp. “When you put the inside and outside guys together, there are guys who can do a number of things, coverage, taking on blocks, tackling, blitzing. These is a myriad of things you have to do at the position. Communication is at the top of it. That’s something I will stress every day. We are working towards that. It’s still very early. I think without pads on, it’s hard to evaluate the most important part, the physical part of the game. I will have more answers for that in August.”
The Steelers are hoping Bush bounces back in 2022, but if he doesn’t they were able to acquire Myles Jack in free agency which won’t leave the cupboard bare if things go south. Giving the team plenty of options is something they didn’t have a year ago, essentially being forced to acquire Joe Schobert via trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Coaches still believe in Bush, his teammates likely do too, but for the fan base they will be taking a wait-and-see-approach. Let’s hope Bush is able to right the ship and make the Steelers pay him before hitting free agency after the 2022 season.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for training camp to start July 26th at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.