As we here at SideLion Report continue to preview potential Detroit Lions‘ draft targets, today take a we look at Michigan linebacker Devin Bush.
While he may have only appeared in 13 games, former Detroit Lions‘ linebacker Eli Harold made his presence felt this past season, posting four key sacks in 2018. He recently departed from the team, signing with the Buffalo Bills this past week.
The loss of Harold means Detroit is down one more player in an already shallow unit, meaning the Lions could look to add another pass-rushing, hard hitting linebacker to replace Harold and possibly double his production.
Being that a lot of Detroit Lions fans are also fans of Michigan Wolverines, adding a familiar face to the team in Devin Bush would be a popular decision, as the highly touted defender could make an instant impact to this young defense.
If the Lions are looking for speed in their ideal outside linebacker, Bush is a perfect fit, as he ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine and is projected to be a day one starter according to NFL.com.
After being featured in seven games his freshmen season as mostly a special teams player, Bush stepped into a starting role his sophomore season and never looked back, posting 95 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and 1 interception in 2017. These numbers earned him All-Big Ten honors, as he was also named a finalist for the Butkus Award, awarded to the nation’s best linebacker.
It was more of the same in his Junior season, as he posted 66 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks, despite dealing with injuries for a portion of the season. These efforts earned Bush more recognition, as the team captain was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, as well as being named an Associated Press second team All-American.
While a lot of mock drafts project Bush falling to the Bengals at the No. 11 pick, if the Lions feel as if he’s an ideal fit for their defense, they can either trade back for Bush or pick him at No. 8 despite the draft gurus calling it a reach.
While Bush is a tad undersized when compared to the average NFL linebacker, his speed, solid tackling skills, and elite ability to pursue the ball more than makes up for it. He has a really high football I.Q., as The Ringer’s Robert Mays wrote about him in his recent piece on how Michigan defenders will fare in the NFL:
"“Players with Bush’s speed and pop occasionally play wildly and haphazardly, but his instincts may be even more impressive than his movement skills … he’s always in control—a quality that also extends to his talents as a pass defender. Bush has a sense for how to defend quick receivers in space.”"
Mays was spot on when talking about Bush’s ability to defend the pass, as despite falling short of six feet, Bush defended 11 passes in his last two seasons at Michigan, which can translate into success at the NFL level.
It makes sense as to why Bush is regarded as one of the elite prospects in this draft, as the highlights of Bush lighting up ball-carriers speaks for itself.
Bush has a lot of skills that translate to the NFL level. His ability to fly out to the sideline and knock speedy backs off their path and flying out of bounds is almost WWE-like. He reads holes like his favorite book, and defended the A and B gaps well in his time at Michigan. And dropping back into pass sets often allows him to be a threat to deflect a pass, thanks to his elite athleticism.
While many mock drafts don’t have the Detroit Lions picking Devin Bush, most of these mock drafts end up being inaccurate. If head coach Matt Patricia fall in love with this speedy linebacker, they should pick him up and let him make an instant impact at a professional level.