NAME: Devin Bush Jr.
JERSEY: No. 10
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
Football Intelligence – Higher level IQ player, involved in numerous concepts (gap exchanges, scrapes, gap fits, etc.) in the run game. Disciplined team player who does well to execute primary responsibilities. Can be influenced by false keys and can be slow to re-adjust.
Tackling – Explosive pop in the pads, booming hits have come from either filling an interior gap or from scraping to the boundary and carrying speed into tackles. Off-tackle reps can be compromised on occasion by over-scraping and getting out of his fit on the ball.
Block Shedding – Does not possess the needed length to effectively stack blocks once having conceded a hand fit on his frame. Does offer a compact punch and pop to create a fleeting moment of separation. Will take the lazy route and work underneath of blocks if working without an angle.
Competitive Toughness – Plays with a great effort level. Has chased down plays off the back end after coming untouched off the second level. Chippy player, can be a bit of an instigator on the field (MSU 2018 incident). Physical power is present but ability to leverage and hold vs. OL is not a strength.
Lateral Mobility – Has the required range to play any position on the second level vs. the run. Short area quickness is essential to step laterally into a gap and get out of the teeth of a combo block for plays vs. power concepts. Smooth moving in all degrees.
Coverage Skills – Fairly raw, although usage down the stretch in 2018 featured more time in space (PSU 2018). Effective shooting into the flats to pick up backs in man coverage. Patient shallow defender in zone to hold water and break on throw. Turn and run coverage will be work in progress.
Gap Shooting Ability – Explosive first step, is a dynamic second level defender who is capable of disrupting behind the line of scrimmage courtesy of blitzes or when stepping to fill vs. a down block. Trusts his speed and can actually get even better and working down into gaps earlier for splash plays.
Feet/Change of Direction – One of the most dynamic linebackers in the class, has terrific ability to dart through short spaces or scrape laterally and slide a gap to slip a block. Has great speed through all angles and is smooth when planting to drive forward and work into the play.
Flexibility – Free moving defender who makes the most of a shorter than preferred frame. Tilts and carries speed as a blitzer to turn the corner and flatten quickly to diminish angles to the passer. Will show strong hip mobility when needing to hinge open and scrape laterally into the sideline.
First Step Quickness – Terrific burst off of the line. Secondary acceleration on delayed blitzes is dynamic and one of his best weapons on the field. Will close ground quickly and trusts mobility to continue to carry speed into the ball carrier/quarterback.
BEST TRAIT – Gap Shoot Ability
WORST TRAIT – Block Shedding
BEST FILM – Notre Dame (2018)
WORST FILM – Penn State (2017)
RED FLAGS – Size
Devin Bush is a player who is set to benefit from this new era of play in the NFL. Bush’s mobility experience in numerous types of responsibilities against the run and upside as a 3rd down defender (blitz ability and potential in coverage) set him up for an impact role. Traditional reps thumping into interior gaps vs. OL takes Bush away from strengths, however. He should be utilized primarily in a gap penetration scheme with a strong DL.
Coverage – Effective in zone drops to read the backfield and work into throwing lanes. Buzzes down into the flats and knows how to defend the hook/curl. Has had some struggles in man coverage when tasked with turning and running with backs and tight ends. Illustrates good route anticipation and recognition ability.
Tackling – Physical and aggressive finisher with outstanding contact balance. Low center of gravity with outstanding hitting power that doesn’t easily concede yards after contact. Squares up well and plays under control when his angles are correct. Lack of length limits his tackle radius.
Blocks – Physical when taking on blocks and isn’t easily moved. Does well to reduce his surface area and slip/undercut blocks by contorting around contact but it’s sometimes at the expense of taking the correct angle. Lack of length causes issues when working to disengage but hands are active.
Physicality – Urgently pursues the football and excels playing into the line of scrimmage. Has no issues exchanging power with blockers and competes hard. Low center of gravity and power in his lower half leads to violent hits and tackles.
Motor – Plays with a motor that always runs hot. Will chase down plays from distance and works hard in pursuit. Blends patience with urgency that keeps him in proper positioning.
Processing – Confident reading his keys and attacking the football. Clean footwork with initial steps in pursuit that combined with excellent quickness keeps him ahead of blocks. Comfortable sinking into zone coverage and feeling routes to his area while reading the backfield.
Range – Quick processing skills, clean footwork and rapid acceleration enables him to work outside the tackles and make plays. Had some issues carrying tight ends down the seam and keeping pace with backs on wheel routes in man coverage.
Flexibility – Moves well laterally and is overall a smooth operator. Has the flexibility needed to work around contact and slip tackles. Quick change of direction ability and transitions are clean when turning and running.
Versatility – Can play all three positions and offers playmaking upside on every down. Thrives in space, playing downhill and offers upside as a blitzer. No limitations.
BEST TRAIT – Physicality
WORST TRAIT – Length
RED FLAGS – None
Bush stacked consecutive dominant seasons together at Michigan while developing into a top linebacker prospect. A versatile defender, Bush projects favorably to all three linebacker positions but is likely most natural as an inside backer. His processing skills, physicality and range makes him an every-down option with playmaking upside. Bush does have some limitations when tackling and playing through contact that are present because he lacks ideal length. Bush should be able to start early in his career and become an impact playmaker with the upside to be the face of an NFL defense.
Key & Diagnose – Not an instinctive, quick trigger linebacker in the box. Doesn’t play downhill consistently enough, can be hesitant to trust his keys and erupt out of his stance with purpose. Will get pinned down at the second level between the tackles because he doesn’t beat blockers to spots. For run plays/short passes/screens outside the box, Bush typically IDs these much faster and is quicker to scrape over and get in pursuit.
Range – Not overly explosive, but plays fast and can cover a lot of ground in a hurry despite having short legs. Makes a ton of plays from the box to the sideline, taking strong angles and sifting through trash well to arrive at the ball. Big strength of his that can be a calling card.
Tackling/Finishing – There are times where he needs to throttle down and come to balance as a tackler, but he runs through contact as a hitter, delivering some massive blows. Lacks the tackle radius that bigger linebackers have and typically needs to get his frame into runners to ensure he can bring them down 1v1. Has whiffed on some opportunities to make tackles outside his frame. Majority of the time shows great form as a tackler and drives through his opponent.
Coverage – Impressive mobility paired with excellent feel and mental processing in coverage. Can carry vertically down the seam, match up with wheel routes out of the backfield and even lined up at corner against Nebraska on one play and at safety against Notre Dame. Not unusual to see him walk out over the slot. Fluid hips to flip and get vertical or speed turn in man coverage. Wish he was a little more instinctive to close on underneath routes in time to make a play on the ball.
Block Deconstruction – Effectiveness around the box is limited due to struggles to play off of blocks. Doesn’t get overwhelmed easily, but won’t stack and shed either, and rarely makes life difficult for blockers in vertical run schemes as he won’t beat them to spots and force them to adjust angles on the move. Not as hard to get a hat on as you’d like him to be.
Change of Direction – Excellent change of direction and flexibility to turn corners and work in pursuit. Has no issue tracking ball carriers in space and movement skills suggest three down usage in the NFL.
Competitive Toughness – High-effort player who brings the physicality every snap. Tone setter. Culture guy who will work his tail off on and off the field. Plays with an edge that teammates will gravitate toward.
Pass Rush – Savvy pass rusher who won’t overpower most opponents, but times and angles his rushes well to dip through contact. Can finish around the edge of the blocker, using his hands to swat down punches and corner. He’ll give running backs all they can handle 1v1.
Discipline – Excellent ID work against screen passes. There are examples of him getting fooled by misdirection, but majority of the time he won’t get pulled around chasing backfield motion. Gets depth with urgency in play action situations, doesn’t overcommit to the run. Extremely assignment-sound in coverage.
Athleticism/Size – Short-armed, stocky linebacker who will weigh in on the low end for his position. Stout lower half with good muscle distribution, but frame is maxed out. Good athlete, but I don’t think he falls under the category of special.
BEST TRAIT – Coverage/Range
WORST TRAIT – Box Run Defense
RED FLAGS – None
A few years ago Bush may have been considered too small to be an NFL linebacker, but he should be fine given the pass-happy state of the current league. Sure, Bush will probably never be a great run defender in the box given his lack of a quick trigger between the tackles and his inability to work off of blocks consistently at the second level, but his range to the boundary is impressive and his third down skill set should be coveted.
Linebackers who can run, hit, blitz and cover are typically prioritized by the NFL, and Bush can do all of those things. There is a limit to his ceiling at the next level, but he should be able to help a team on long and late downs right away before taking on a full-time role sooner rather than later.