Analysts Criticize Steelers' Decision to Trade Up for Devin Bush

Devin Bush's NFL journey takes another challenging turn.

by Faizan Chaudhary
Analysts Criticize Steelers' Decision to Trade Up for Devin Bush
© Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

In a move that has drawn considerable scrutiny from analysts and fans alike, the Pittsburgh Steelers' decision to aggressively trade up for linebacker Devin Bush in the 2019 NFL Draft is now viewed as a significant misstep.

Selected tenth overall after a deal with the Denver Broncos, Bush, who hailed from Michigan, has struggled to justify the Steelers' hefty investment in him, particularly in the wake of an ACL injury that derailed his career early on.

Devin Bush, now 25, showed promise during his rookie year in 2019, starting 15 games and flashing potential that made him a standout at the college level. However, his performance dipped dramatically after he sustained a severe knee injury in 2020, from which he never fully regained his former prowess.

This downturn in his career trajectory culminated in a lackluster season with the Seattle Seahawks, followed by his recent signing with the Cleveland Browns.

Trade Strategy Criticized

The trade itself was marked by controversy from the start, as the Steelers surrendered significant draft capital to secure Bush.

ESPN analyst Seth Walder pointed to this move as a quintessential example of poor trading strategy, particularly for a non-premium position like an off-ball linebacker. "The Steelers made a pricey trade-up with a 64% premium, essentially wasting what amounted to a fringe first-round pick," Walder commented.

This strategic blunder was highlighted by Pittsburgh's relative lack of draft picks, which they could have utilized more effectively. In 2022, Pittsburgh intensified their efforts to revitalize Bush's career. The team brought in Myles Jack, a seasoned NFL linebacker, to provide leadership within the group and enlisted former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores to coach the linebackers.

Despite these efforts, Bush's performance failed to improve significantly, leading to his eventual departure to Seattle, where he continued to struggle under head coach Pete Carroll. Following a disappointing season, Carroll was replaced by Mike Macdonald, signaling yet another new direction for the team.

During his brief tenure in Seattle, Bush started only three games, and his difficulties in shedding blocks—a problem that had plagued him in Pittsburgh—persisted. Notably, in a late-season game against his former team, the Steelers exploited these weaknesses, directing a successful running game his way.

As Bush moves forward with the Browns, there is speculative hope that he might revive his faltering career, especially given his familial ties to the team—his father, Devin Bush Sr., played as a safety for Cleveland from 2001 to 2002.

However, the overarching narrative remains one of a high-stakes gamble by the Steelers that failed to pay off, serving as a cautionary tale in the high-risk world of NFL trades.