Steelers Trade Up, Select LB Bush in 1st Round
Earlier in the offseason, Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert stated that his team did not effectively fix their inside linebacker issue what was created when Pro-Bowler Ryan Shazier suffered his spinal cord injury in late 2017. Even after the signing of free agent LB John Bostic, Colbert still wasn’t pleased with the state of the position.
But with their 1st round pick of 2019, the Steelers made a bold move to fill that void when they swapped their 20th overall pick with the Denver Broncos 10th overall pick to select Michigan Inside Linebacker Devin Bush.
“Obviously when you make a trade up into the top 10, we were very excited to be able to make that trade and to get Devin Bush.” Said Colbert as he and head coach Mike Tomlin addressed the media “Really, we identified Devin even going back into last year when we watched him as an underclassman. Coach Tomlin had a handle on him really coming into this season.”
“I share Kevin’s excitement.” Said Tomlin “Succinctly, he’s an all situations linebacker. Really all three-down type of a guy versus the run, versus the pass, being in coverage, or in pressures. And those are just the tangible things. We are equally as fired up about his intangibles. He comes from a football family. He’s a football guy.”
Ranked #2 at his position (#1 Ranked Devin White was selected 5th overall by Tampa Bay), the Steelers knew that Bush was a can’t-miss opportunity and made the type of power-move that only could be described by Hall of Fame Chuck Noll: Whatever it Takes. The Steelers decided that giving up their second round pick and a 2020 third round pick to the Broncos was worth it.
Many media persons were split on their views about the Steelers being serious on moving up to take Bush, with some stating that the Steelers may feel that it would cost too much to get him, but they obviously forgot to get the Steelers opinion on the matter.
“No, Devin was very high on our board.” Said Colbert. “And as we said the other day when we did the pre-draft Conference, if a player is high on your board and he gets within reach, then you make the necessary moves to go up and get him. Fortunately, we found a trade partner in Denver.”
From a history standpoint, it’s the Steelers highest pick since they drafted WR Plaxico Burress at 8th overall in 2000 and it’s their highest defensive player drafted since 2003 when they traded up to get Safety Troy Polamalu at 16th overall.
“In this League he’s got the type of skillset that can help us in two phases, special teams and defense.” Said Tomlin “Obviously, it will all be sorted out by the process, but obviously we feel like he can help us, and help us rather quickly with his talent and skillset.”
In the offseason, the Steelers signed S/LB Mark Barron from the LA Rams with hopes to adding more skill and speed to the position, when asked about the importance of speed on the field with him and Bush, Tomlin replied “That coverage ability, but I don’t want to underscore his blitzing capabilities, too. I think that was as exciting to me as his coverage. I mean what I said, and I said he’s an exciting, all situations linebacker, and to have that type of athleticism in the second level of defense I think is critical in today’s NFL.”
Under head coach Jim Harbaugh, Bush played in 39 career games, 32 starts as a 3-year letterman. A 2-time Academic All-Big Ten Conference member (2017-18) registered 194 tackles, 20.0 tackles for losses, 10.0 sacks one interception and 17 passes defensed for his Wolverines career.
In 2018, Bush was an NCAA Consensus All-American, earning All-Big 10 First team honors. He was the Nagurski-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a Butkus-Fitzgerald Big 10 Linebacker of the Year recipient. He was also a Roger Zackoff Award winner as Michigan’s top linebacker. He was voted a team captain and led the team with 80 tackles, 5 sacks and 6 pass breakups.
When asked about what it meant to be drafted by the Steelers, Bush replied “It feels great. I’m just loving the moment right now and being able to put on the black and gold and being able to go out there and play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It means everything to me.”
When asked how he would be a good fit, Bush replied “I think I’m a good fit because I love to win, and this team wants to win. I’m a guy that loves to win and just put me in the team nucleus. Being able to put a guy that loves to win, you know that’s how effective he’s going to be. Have a winning attitude, go to practice to win so that’s what they’re looking for.”
Colbert stated that having 10 draft picks made it easy for the Steelers to pursue moving to get Bush in the 1st round. “Any trade both sides have to agree to it. When we looked at that in our minds it wasn’t that far from a two and four. Because both of those picks are so high in their respective rounds. Without that trade we would not have made this trade today. I’m very comfortable in saying that because we wouldn’t have had the picks to do it.”
Notes: As expected, the Arizona Cardinals selected QB Kyler Murray as the #1 overall pick, the #2 pick was DE Nick Bosa, who was selected by San Francisco. The NY Jets took DT Quinnen Williams at #3 and DE Clelin Ferrell was picked at #4 by Oakland.
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