Defensive coordinator Keith Butler knew what the Steelers were looking for, well enough that it was recognizable upon discovery.
Now that they’ve found it, the pressure is on to justify the investment in first-round pick Devin Bush.
“There will be great expectations, and he knows that,” Butler acknowledged during Mandatory Veteran Minicamp. “And that’s OK, because in order to be successful in this league you gotta perform under pressure.
“You gotta perform under pressure and he’s going to have to do that, as well as his coaches.”
The Steelers were adamant in their desire to bolster inside linebacker in the draft, but they were also aware their options were limited in terms of being able to make a splash.
“We knew what we wanted,” Butler continued. “The guys we wanted were the Devins, both the Devins.
“The first one went early, and (General Manager) Kevin (Colbert) did a great thing moving up.”
Colbert came to the conclusion had to make a move once the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made LSU inside linebacker Devin White the fifth overall selection.
The move the Steelers wound up making was to send this year’s first- and second-round picks (20th and 52nd overall) and a third-round selection in 2020 to Denver for the Broncos’ first-round pick (10th overall), which the Steelers quickly used to add Bush, an inside linebacker from Michigan.
The Steelers perceived Bush as more than just an athlete and a collection of stats, more than a projection based on game-day tape, NFL Scouting Combine information and Pro Day confirmation, Butler in particular.
“Bush’s dad (Devin Bush Sr.) was a safety at Cleveland (in 2001 and 2002) when I was a linebackers coach there,” Butler said. “He’d always been a good player and very bright, very smart. Both of them are inquisitive. They have questions that are good questions. They’re not way-out-there questions. They’re questions that are to the point.
“Intelligence and athletic ability are a great thing to have.”
So is an NFL pedigree.
And that’s something Bush shared with the Steelers’ two most recent first-round picks. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt, No. 1 in 2017, followed in the NFL footsteps of brothers J.J. in 2011 and Derek in 2016. And safety Terrell Edmunds, No. 1 in 2018, had a father who played in the NFL (Ferrell), a brother who preceded him into the league by a year (Trey) and a brother who arrived 12 spots ahead of where Terrell had been selected (Tremaine).
“He comes from a football family,” Butler emphasized of Bush. “Just like Terrell Edmunds did when we took him. Just like T.J. Watt did when we took him. I think that’s probably one of the better advantages for us in terms of hitting on draft picks is those guys come from football families.
“They’re not coming in as a rookie and having to figure out everything that goes on around them, that’s a tough deal. So I think we’re good to go with the guys we’ve taken.”
A recap from the Steelers 2019 minicamp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex