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The Hindsight: What Steelers Nation initially said about Devin Bush

The writing may have been on the wall as soon as draft day

NFL: APR 25 2019 NFL Draft Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It looks like it’s the end of the Devin Bush era in Pittsburgh. Although his 2022 season could be seen as an improvement over 2021, his snap count significantly shrank in the final weeks. Many are assuming he’s played his last down for the Steelers, and for the past year, many fans have been saying it’s a welcome move.

Now, there’s a segment of the fan base who wants to use the power of hindsight and paint Bush’s lack of success as an indictment on Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert and the Steelers front office. Of course, it’s a disappointment when a number 10 overall pick doesn’t make a second contract, especially with the draft picks the Steelers invested to reach him. Some may want to label him a ‘bust,’ even considering his career-altering injury. But only the most cynical critics can truly believe Devin’s pick is a reflection of an unprepared evaluation process. Certainly, no one was saying that at the time, although there were a few voices who may have seen this all coming from the start. Let’s take a look back at what was being said about Devin Bush.

The team felt the pick was a slam dunk at the time. Tomlin called Bush a “defensive quarterback” and “unquestioned leader.” Colbert was even more frank: “It was an easy pick to take him with the #10 pick.”

The media landscape was practically in unison with their praise for Bush.

Mel Kiper (ESPN): “I love this fit, and I love Pittsburgh being aggressive in getting its guy.”

Daniel Jeremiah ( “I think it’s a perfect fit. There are two big-time linebackers and I don’t think there’s a lot of difference between him and Devin White. He has great leadership and great explosion.”

Dane Brugler (The Athletic): “This is reminiscent of 2003 when the Steelers moved up 11 spots for Troy Polamalu.”

Andy Benoit (Sports Illustrated): “Trading up for Bush was an easy decision...They haven’t had such flexibility since Shazier was last on the field.”

Shannon White (BTSC): “Bush appears to be a great fit for the Steelers and their team culture.”

Matt Miller (Bleacher Report): “Brings power to the field with an explosive first step and bad intentions as a tackler and elite closing skills when zeroing in on a ball-carrier. Experienced and productive in pass coverage; fast enough to lock up tight ends or backs.”

Steven Ruiz (USA Today): “The Steelers have found their replacement for Ryan Shazier. Devin Bush is a true sideline-to-sideline linebacker who can hold up in man coverage. He’s the perfect linebacker for the modern NFL.”

There were a couple of skeptic voices.

Pete Prisco (CBS Sports): “They gave up a little too much though (picks 20 and 52 overall and a 2020 third round pick). He better be special.”

Eric Edholm (Yahoo Sports): “Once a lineman locks in on Bush, he has serious trouble getting free — can learn better technique shedding blocks but will always have to work harder than bigger-framed linebackers to prevent this. Can stand to avoid second-level blockers better. Tries to run around blockers too much and will run himself out of plays.”

It turns out that Edholm could foresee Bush’s struggles better than any other analyst. His difficulties with second-level blockers certainly put Devin on Merril Hoge’s hitlist. And he never really emerged as a unifying leader who could organize the defense on the field. But he’s not a true ‘bust’ in the vein of a Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russell. Or maybe the upcoming free agent market will ultimately decide that.

Kyle Chrise is the host of the BTSC podcast “What Yinz Talkin’ Bout.” New episodes premiere every Thursday. Check out the latest podcast in the player below: