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Mack: The Steel Of The First Round

Devin Bush Will Be Keystone Of Improved Defense

Chris Mack
April 26, 2019 - 8:14 am

It took a lot of broken "Steeler Way" traditions to get General Manager Kevin Colbert and Head Coach Mike Tomlin to the point where they selected Michigan Linebacker Devin Bush with the 10th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. It happened though, and for the first time since the retirement of Troy Polamalu, there is a high speed, big tackling, turnover creating, havoc wreaker in the middle of the Pittsburgh defense.

Let's start with the shattered tradition of menacing defense.

The loss of Ryan Shazier due to his tragic spinal injury in December of 2017 was perhaps the final blow to a unit that gradually lost what was once at the core of any Steeler defense: Forcing turnovers. While the additions of Joe Haden and T.J. Watt earlier in ‘17 were important - the former’s lock down coverage and the latter’s ability to break down the pocket can certainly force mistakes by an opposing offense - replacing the speed lost due to Shazier’s absence in the middle of the field was necessary. Drafting Bush brings back the “splash” to a defense that is in desperate need.

Related: Devin Bush Says He's Not Shazier, But Ready to Win

It also brings back what was once a great Steeler tradition of making the kind of high impact draft picks that a championship team is built around. 

Throughout the 1970s, the Steelers were built in no small part by the scouting of Bill Nunn done at smaller, historically black colleges. In the 2000s, a pair of Super Bowl champions were punctuated by the desire to get what was needed, and to not just settle for the clichéd “best available player.” The draft day trades necessary to add a future Hall of Famer in Polamalu and a future Super Bowl MVP in Santonio Holmes were made out of the recognition that something big and bold had to be done, and the willingness to actually do it. This was not sitting back and taking Artie Burns, Jarvis Jones, and Bud Dupree. 

Moving up 10 picks to get arguably the best tackler in the Big Ten conference is the kind of move a team makes if it recognizes it has a glaring need that, once filled, can make the difference between just missing the playoffs and winning a division.

It also shouldn't be lost on anyone that the addition of Bush is the capstone to an offseason that included the signings of cornerback Steven Nelson and linebacker Mark Barron, and may include more additions in Friday night's Second and Third Rounds. 

Wait... the Steelers traded up in to the Top 10 of the First Round of the Draft -AND- made two acquisitions in free agency to fix their biggest issues on the defensive side of the ball?

The PITTSBURGH Steelers??!?

Quietly, but very effectively, Colbert and Tomlin have gone about fortifying what was their team's biggest weakness, and have done so by stepping out of character. They've done exactly what we all wanted them to do but very few actually expected them to do. They broke their own mold, their own staid traditions of "that's the way we've always done it," and procured the necessary talent.

In the end, because Colbert and Tomlin were willing to be aggressive and take risks, we all woke up Friday morning feeling like the Steelers got the steal of the draft and won the First Round. 

And winning is the one tradition you don't want them to break.