Devin Bush could have success with the Browns, and here's why

The Browns defense could allow Devin Bush to shine

Devin Bush
Devin Bush / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Football is the ultimate team sport. Oftentimes, a player with exceptional athletic talent can be held back if the team around him isn't doing its job — which the Cleveland Browns witnessed first-hand with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

While the former second-round pick was good during his first two seasons in the NFL, he was great in 2023. JOK recorded a career-high 101 tackles and 3.5 sacks. He even hauled in his first two career picks (sure, one shouldn't have counted, but we'll take it).

So what changed? It wasn't JOK, but rather the players in front of him.

Cleveland made sure to bolster their defensive line with the additions of Dalvin Tomlinson, Maurice Hurst, Shelby Harris, and Za'Darius Smith. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was hired as well and all of this led to the Browns climbing from 25th in the league in run defense to 11th. The push up front was evident in this area and it helped JOK reach his full potential.

Enter Devin Bush, who signed with Cleveland this offseason.

Bush is a 5-foot-11, 234-pound linebacker who ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash back in 2019. The Michigan product went 10th overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers and while he was considered a draft bust, he did have two decent seasons with the Steelers.

One of those years was his rookie campaign in 2019 and the other was 2022. As a rookie, he had 109 tackles, a sack, and two picks and finished with a 62.9 rating according to PFF. In 2022, he had 81 tackles and two pass defenses, finishing with a 58.8. That score might not be great, but it was far better than the 34.4 he had in 2021 — we ignore 2020 since he played just five games.

The difference between those decent campaigns and the awful one could be attributed to the run defenders in front of him. In 2019 the Steelers were 14th in the NFL against the run and in 2022, they were ninth. And in 2021, his worst season according to PFF, they were 32nd against the run.

Much like JOK, Bush isn't a linebacker who is built to take on guards and tackles at the second level. But when defensive tackles and ends do their jobs, he can use his speed to make an impact.

Cleveland heads into 2024 with a chance to be even better in this department. They not only retained Smith, Hurst, and Harris but also signed Quinton Jefferson. Plus, they added Jordan Hicks as their middle linebacker, meaning Bush won't be asked to play every down either. When he is on the field, however, there will be enough big bodies occupying blockers to allow him to attack the ball carrier.

It's an excellent situation for Bush and it could prove to be a low-risk/high-reward move that pays off for the Browns.

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