Devin Bush showed a lot of promise in his rookie season. Here’s why the Steelers former 10th overall pick could make a big leap forward in his second season.
Playing in the NFL as a rookie has got to be one of the most daunting tasks you could ask for from a professional athlete. But doing so as perhaps the youngest relevant player in the league is something else entirely. That’s precisely what Devin Bush did in his first season with the Steelers.
Despite a complex defensive scheme, the 21-year old linebacker stepped right in and made a difference on the defensive side of the ball. Bush nabbed 3 fumble recoveries in the first three weeks of the season. The following week against Cincinnati, he earned nine tackles and rode down the ball carrier for a loss 3 times. Bush ultimately finished his rookie season with 109 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 4 fumble recoveries, 2 interceptions, 1.0 sack, and a defensive touchdown.
However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the young linebacker. Bush was exposed in coverage early in the season. According to Pro Football Reference’s advanced statistics, he allowed 46 completions (67.6 percent) for 435 yards and 5 touchdowns to be thrown in his direction. His 97.4 passer rating allowed was second-worst only to Terrell Edmunds in 2019, and often took a false step in coverage.
Still, there is plenty of reason to believe that Devin Bush will develop into a terrific NFL linebacker.
For starter, Bush possesses extremely rare athleticism. Here is a breakdown of some of his testing numbers and how he fares against other NFL players:
Just a reminder of how freakishly athletic Devin Bush is:
4.43 40-yard dash (97%)
40.5” vertical (96%)
124” broad jump (89%)
6.93 3-cone (73%)
4.23 shuttle (66%)
142.9 SPARQ (97%)
— Tommy Jaggi (@TommyJaggi) February 8, 2020
Bush tested above 95 percent of NFL linebackers in both the 40-yard dash and vertical jump. Overall, his 142.9 SPARQ score (a formula that measures explosion and athleticism) was in the 97th percentile of NFL players at his position.
However, Bush has proven to be more than just a good athlete, and his track record speaks for itself. Bush was a two-time team captain at Michigan and was the recipient of the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award in 2018.
In addition, there are very few linebackers who explode onto the NFL scene at such a young age. Bush was 20 years old when he was drafted to the Pittsburgh Steelers and didn’t have his birthday until nearly the start of his first training camp.
We have seen very good linebackers take a while to get going in the NFL. Both Bobby Wagner and Ryan Shazier didn’t make their first Pro Bowl until their third NFL season at the age of 24. Bush won’t be 24 until the start of his 4th season in Pittsburgh, so he is already ahead of the game.
Was Devin Bush perfect as a rookie? Certainly not. However, he showed the athleticism and potential that we were all hoping to see in 2019. He is going to take some finetuning, but Devin Bush has the makings of a star. Don’t be surprised if we see a much-improved player in year two.