Devin Bush
(Justin Berl-Getty Images)

There has been a hole in the Steeler’s defense ever since Ryan Shazier was injured in 2017. In the 2019 draft, the Steelers selected Devin Bush 10th overall in an attempt to fill that hole. He seemed like the perfect candidate to replace Shazier. Bush was hardworking, athletic and a great playmaker much like Shazier. However, there was some doubt if he could have the same impact Shazier had on and off the field. With his rookie season over and his sophomore season beginning, it is easy to say that Devin Bush can become a better football player than Ryan Shazier was during his time in Pittsburgh.

The Stats

In 2019 rookie Devin Bush had an excellent stat line. He recorded 109 combined tackles, 1 sack, 4 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble, 4 passes defended, and 2 interceptions. These stats are not only great for a rookie season, but they are also great for any player at the linebacker position. In fact, compared to directly even to Shazier, Devin Bush stacks up excellently.

If we look back at Shazier’s last healthy season, we can see that he only beat Bush in 3 categories. Those three categories being interceptions passes defended and forced fumbles. Although Shazier was known for his powerful tackling, he has never surpassed 100 combined tackles in a season. Devin Bush, however, has done so in his rookie season. In his first year, Devin Bush appears to have surpassed Shazier in all but his coverage and turnover abilities.

What he lacks in coverage, however, Bush made up for in the run-stopping ability. In 2018 free safety Sean Davis tied with middle linebacker Jon Bostic for 8.5% of tackles on run plays. Compare that to Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2019, who had 4.5% of tackles on run plays and Bush who had 9.5% of all tackles on run plays. This means that Devin Bush stopped the run a tenth of the time and stopped it frequently enough that the free safety did not have to intervene.

The Intangibles

One of the most important qualities that Ryan Shazier brought onto the field was his leadership and respect. Once he stepped onto the field the other teams feared him and the players respected him. Many people doubted if Devin Bush could have as much presence as Ryan Shazier had. However as a rookie, Bush demanded respect, not through his words, but through his play.

Nobody gets immediate respect, not even Ryan Shazier. Shazier made the other teams fear him through his relentless play and ability. He made his teammates respect him through his charisma and his hard work. Devin Bush will do the same, and unlike Shazier who accomplished this alone, Bush will have an excellent teacher, in Shazier, to show him how to grow and what to work on.

Conclusion

With more experience and Shazier showing him the way, Devin Bush is set to become one of the best linebackers in the NFL. At only 22 years old, and no major flaws in his game, if Bush continues to improve as he had been in 2019, he will be a pro-bowler in no time. And by the end of the 2020 season, I expect him to have perfected his coverage abilities and become a better linebacker than Shazier was.

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