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Like father, like son

One of the aspects the Steelers valued in their evaluation of Devin Bush leading into last year's NFL Draft was his NFL heritage.

His father, Devin Bush Sr., had played safety for the Falcons, Rams and Browns from 1995-2002. He'd even been coached by Keith Butler when the Steelers' current defensive coordinator had been an assistant in Cleveland.

The Steelers were convinced the father having such an inside understanding of the NFL had to be an advantage for the son.

They likewise appreciated the edge T.J. Watt had gleaned in 2017 while following brothers J.J. and Derek into the NFL.

Steelers defensive tackle Cam Heyward is another NFL legacy. His father, running back Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, was a first-round pick of New Orleans in 1988 and played with Saints, Bears, Falcons, Rams and Colts through 1998.

One of the latest examples of such a dynamic in action occurred during a Senior Bowl practice in January in Mobile, Ala., when NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah raved about a route that had been run by Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson.

Jefferson's father Shawn played wide receiver for 13 seasons in the NFL and currently coaches wide receivers for the New York Jets.

"That's a son-of-a-wide-receivers-coach route," Jeremiah gushed. "You can't run it any better than this. Watch him separate at the top of his route, get out of the break, come back down hill. Attack the ball with your hands, don't let it get into your body.

"I mean, that's teaching tape right there."

Such ties are far from the only reason a particular prospect ends up hearing his name called on drat day.

But the perception that it helps a great deal to know what you're getting into is real, that the transition from college football is more familiar when it's also something of a family tradition.

There are plenty of players that have that going for them available this April.

Among them:


Michigan offensive tackle Jon Runyan is the son of former NFL offensive tackle Jon Runyan, a fourth-round pick by Houston in 1996 who went on to play 14 NFL seasons for the Oilers, Titans, Eagles and Chargers.

North Carolina offensive tackle Charlie Heck is the son of Chiefs offensive line coach Andy Heck, a first-round pick of the Seahawks in 1989 who played offensive lineman for the Seahawks, Bears and Redskins for 12 seasons.


Purdue's Brycen Hopkins is the son of former NFL offensive tackle Brad Hopkins, who was drafted 13th overall by the Oilers in 1993 and spent 13 seasons with the franchise.

Notre Dame's Cole Kmet is the son of Frank Kmet, a fourth-round pick of the Bills in 1992 as a defensive end out of Purdue. Cole Kmet's father never played in the NFL but uncle Jeff Zgonina was a seventh-round pick of the Steelers in 1993 who played for eight teams in 17 NFL seasons, including the Steelers in 1993 and 1994. Zgonina is currently the Redskins' assistant defensive line coach.

LSU's Thaddeus Moss is the son of Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Randy Moss.


Texas' Devin Duvernay is a cousin of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.

Jefferson's father Shawn was a ninth-round pick of Houston in 1991 who played for the Chargers, Patriots, Falcons and Lions over his 13 seasons before getting into coaching. He's also the Jets' assistant head coach/offense.

USC's Michael Pittman Jr. is the son of former NFL running back Michael Pittman, a fourth-round pick of the Cardinals in 1998. Michael Pittman played 11 NFL seasons for three teams and won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Buccaneers at the conclusion of the 2002 season.

TCU's Jalen Reagor is the son of former NFL defensive tackle Montae Reagor, a second-round pick of the Broncos in 1999 who also played for the Colts and Eagles in his nine-year NFL career.


Michigan's Jordan Glasgow is the brother of Bengals defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow and Broncos offensive lineman Graham Glasgow.


Auburn cornerback Javaris Davis is a cousin of Vernon and Vontae Davis. Vernon Davis played four games at tight end for the Redskins in 2019, continuing an NFL career that began as a first-round pick of the 49ers in 2006. Vontae Davis was a first-round pick of the Dolphins in 2009 and played 121 career regular-season games with Miami, Indianapolis and Buffalo.

Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs is the brother of Bills wide receiver Stephon Diggs, a fifth-round pick of the Vikings in 2015.

Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr. is the son of former Bills and Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield, a first-round pick by Buffalo in 1999.