Following Devin Bush’s tumultuous 2021 season, the 10th overall pick from the 2019 draft has been deemed a bust by many in the fan base and even some in the media. Former Steelers running back Merril Hoge is Bush’s most noteworthy critic, as Hoge said on 93.7 The Fan earlier this month, “He won’t get better. You don’t win with those kinds of guys.” Hoge also said that the Steelers need to “cut bait” with Bush.
The Steelers declined to place the fifth-year option on Bush in May, so it came as no surprise that Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports listed Bush among nine players who are facing a make-or-break season in 2022.
“Bush is one of the most athletically capable linebackers in football. His range at Michigan and 4.43 speed at 5-11 and 234 pounds led to the Steelers trading up to select him at No. 10 overall in the 2019 draft. As an energetic rookie, Bush looked like Pittsburgh’s next elite second-level defender,” Trapasso wrote.
“But over time, his stellar play close to the line of scrimmage and when attacking downhill was counteracted by shoddy coverage, and a torn ACL in Week 6 of 2020 derailed what mostly looked like a promising start to his pro career. Then in 2021, Bush wasn’t himself. He missed more tackles than ever, was hardly a force in the box and the coverage woes continued. The Steelers didn’t exercise his fifth-year option, thereby making him an impending free agent after the 2022 campaign.”
As Trapasso alludes to, Bush’s poor play in 2021 could be attributed to the fact he was coming off an ACL injury.
“I get the chance to play football again how I want to, for real,” Bush said at OTAs. “I get the chance to go out there and be myself. I feel like I’m starting a whole new slate, and I feel pretty good about it.
“I wasn’t happy with my play. I wasn’t happy with losing. I went through some things personally. It was a learning process for me.”
Perhaps Steelers’ new senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach Brian Flores can help give Bush a spark to turn his career around. Flores, who was the head coach for the Dolphins from 2019-2021, is an understudy of Bill Belichick and is a self-described demanding coach. He could be just what Bush needs at this point of his career.
“The physical part, he looks good out here,” Flores said of Bush at minicamp. “He’s moving around well. That’s the case for all of them. You can’t really evaluate linebackers until you put the pads on. It’s one thing to be out here in shorts, and it’s another to take on a 330-pound guard who’s coming at you. It’s early in the process. So far, he’s done a nice job along with all the guys in that room.”