Having three picks in the first round of the NFL draft is an opportunity not many teams get to experience. In fact, only two teams have had three or more picks in the first round since the Jets had four in 2000. The Browns had three in 2017 and selected Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, and David Njoku. The Vikings also had three picks in 2013 and took Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes, and Cordarrelle Patterson.
The premiere factor about this is that both teams that had possessed three first round picks do not have all three players picked remaining on their team. Peppers was sent to the Giants in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade and Patterson has also been traded a few times already. Floyd fell victim to a botched surgery and will not be able to play NFL caliber football again.
This is the challenge the Raiders will face in the 2019 NFL Draft. A first round pick is typically viewed as an investment, in which teams will dedicate all available resources to build and evolve the player in to the best NFL player he can be. But the Raiders have three first round picks and, after a rough season, all three of their picks have to perform.
One player I expect to perform is linebacker Devin Bush from Michigan. Many mock drafts, as well as my own, have Devin Bush available at the 24th pick.
As a Michigan fan, I was able to watch Bush outshine a stacked Wolverines defense almost every Saturday. Although Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich drew the most attention at the beginning of the season, attention quickly turned to Bush.
Listed at 5’11”, Bush is not the biggest linebacker in the draft, but he is certainly one of the fastest. Bush’s 4.43-second 40-yard dash was the second fastest among linebackers, coming in one hundredth of a second behind LSU’s Devin White.
Bush’s speed certainly translates to the field as well. I found it astonishing to watch Bush make plays at the line of scrimmage (or a couple yards past) on the other side of the field. Bush is explosive and does a great job of reading plays. He never backs down from a bigger player, as he might be going too fast to stop. Obviously, this is not the case, as Bush seems capable enough to stop himself if he wants to, but with his athleticism, why would he want to?
As a linebacker, speed is crucial. As mentioned, Devin Bush has speed to blow up a play anywhere on the field but, his speed also translates to pass coverage. Bush is a top-tier pass defender in zone and man coverage, but as a linebacker, it will be interesting to see how his height matches up to the tight ends of the NFL he may find himself matched up against.
Other than size, Bush’s biggest downside is coming too far upfield and leaving a gap for a mobile quarterback to sneak through. But, this downside is completely teachable and should be addressed quickly by the coaching staff of the team he ends up with.
At 24th in the draft, Bush might even be a steal. The Raiders need another linebacker and pass defense, and although he is not a defensive back, Devin Bush fits the bill for both of these Raiders needs.