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Report: Raiders to host off ball linebacker Devin Bush in pre-draft visit

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Wisconsin v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It’s no secret that the defense of the Oakland Raiders finished dead last in the NFL in multiple statistical categories in 2018, including points allowed, sacks and the rate at which the defense generated pressure on the opposing quarterback. With the team holding four of the first 35 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, it is likely that some of the weak points on the defense will be addressed with top prospects, which makes it no surprise that reports have emerged the Raiders are to host one of the top linebackers available in the draft.

Devin Bush is an off ball linebacker from the University of Michigan who is still very young, as he will not turn 21 until the middle of July this summer, however, he has already amassed quite an impressive list of accolades. These include winning both the Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year award, the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year, First Team All-Big Ten and was a Consensus All-American. In short, he’s really good, and would be a welcome addition to a defensive unit that allowed the third most rushing yards in the NFL during the 2018 season.

Athletically, he is not dissimilar from some of the top linebackers in the league, such as Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks and Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers, as is seen in a comparison of the athletic profiles of these three.

Athletic profile of Devin Bush compared to Bobby Wagner and Luke Kuechly

Catetory Devin Bush Bobby Wagner Luke Kuechly
Catetory Devin Bush Bobby Wagner Luke Kuechly
Height 5110 6002 6032
Weight 229 241 242
40 4.43 4.46 4.58
Bench 21 24 27
Vertical 40.5 39.5 38
Broad 124" 132 123
Shuttle 4.23 4.28 4.12
3-cone 6.93 7.1 6.92

Obviously there is a lot more to playing linebacker than simply being highly athletic, but having the physical skills is certainly a major piece of playing in the NFL. Interestingly, many rankings and mock drafts have Bush being selected later than the Raiders first pick at 1.4, but well before the team’s later picks at 1.24 and 1.27. Thus, if the team truly has an interest in selecting Bush, it would not be a surprise to see a trade down from the fourth spot to the tenth or twelfth spot in order to add more picks to the arsenal while also saving some money.

That last part may be a key component to any trade down because until such a time as the Raiders complete the relocation into the new stadium in Las Vegas, they will remain one of the most cash strapped teams in the NFL. That is a key piece to keep in mind because the player selected with the fourth overall selection gets a fully guaranteed $31.36M contract, while the player selected tenth gets $18.87M. That represents the opportunity for the team to save twelve and a half million dollars in cash flow simply by trading down a half dozen spots, and which would also present the opportunity for the team to add to its Day 2 and Day 3 arsenal of picks.

The specific talents and skills Bush brings to the table have been discussed here at Silver and Black Pride in multiple posts in recent months. Specifically, BD Williams noted back in February that Bush is considered the strongest linebacker available in the draft and again in March in listing three potential impact linebackers that the Raiders could look at early. Evan Groat also mentioned Bush in March after his standout performance at the combine, a performance that got him named when Levi Damien put together the 2019 NFL Al Davis Memorial All-combine freak team: Defense.

So, to summarize, Bush is a highly impactful player who would fill a position of need and could be available at a point in the draft that would allow the team to trade down and add more picks. Thus, drafting Bush represents an opportunity for the team to do far more than simply address one of the team’s needs, which makes it only logical that the Raiders are reportedly set to have him in for a visit.