Throw him into the fire? Or make him wait and learn behind veterans?

Throw him right into the fire? Or make him sit and wait his turn behind veterans?

Those are the two contrasting approaches teams can take to playing their newcomers. Steelers first-round draft pick Devin Bush knows about both.As a freshman at Michigan in 2016, the Wolverines coaching staff knew Bush’s pedigree, explosive speed and instincts could turn him into a unique player at linebacker … eventually. But first, he’d have to prove himself on special teams, playing only sparingly at linebacker in a reserve role.

“It was a lesson learned,” Bush said. “It definitely kept me hungry. It kept me motivated. It kept me focused.”
Now, as Bush prepares for the first preseason game of his rookie year on Friday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his regular season debut inches closer, the question is which approach do the Steelers choose to take with a player they moved up 10 spots to select? And which is better long-term?

“Everyone is different,” said safety Terrell Edmunds, who led all NFL rookies in snap count last season. “Some people, if you throw them into the fire too early, that can lead to a lot of negative exposure. Some people can’t handle that. … You’ve got to be in the right situation.”Years ago, it would be unheard of for a Steelers first-round pick to start on defense.From 2003 through 2011 — a stretch that included three Super Bowl appearances and two rings — the Steelers drafted four defensive players in the first round: Troy Polamalu (2013), Lawrence Timmons (2007), Ziggy Hood (2009) and Cameron Heyward (2011).
Not a single one started a single game in his rookie season. Zero.

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Steelers defensive first-round picks
2019: Devin Bush, LB, Michigan, pick No. 10 overall

2018:Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech, pick No. 28 overall; Started Week 1 at Cleveland in part because the presumptive starter, Morgan Burnett, was injured. … Went on to start 15 of 16 games … Recorded 78 tackles, one sack and one interception… Played 966 snaps on defense, second only to Sean Davis (979), plus 223 on special teams.

2017: T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin, pick No. 30 overall; Started all 15 games he was healthy… recorded an interception and a pair of sacks in his debut game vs. Browns… Recorded 52 tackles and seven sacks… Played 751 snaps (76.55 percent), plus 149 on special teams.

2016: Artie Burns, CB, Miami, pick No. 25 overall; Started the final nine games…. Recorded 64 tackles, three interceptions and 13 passes defended… Played 810 snaps on defense (77.44 percent), plus 196 on special teams.

2015: Bud Dupree, LB, Kentucky, pick No. 22 overall; Started five games/ played in 16, recording four sacks and 26 tackles … Played 563 defensive snaps (50.77 percent), plus 95 on special teams.

2014:Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State, pick No. 15 overall; Started five games…. Recorded 40 tackles and one QB hit… Played 258 defensive snaps (26.06 percent), plus 58 on special teams.

2013:Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia, pick No. 17 overall; Started in eight games, played in 14 … Recorded 41 tackles and one sack… Played 630 defensive snaps (58.88 percent), plus 121 on special teams.

2011: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State, pick No. 31 overall; Zero starts as a rookie… recorded 11 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble.

2009: Ziggy Hood, DT, Missouri, No. 32 overall; Zero starts as a rookie… recorded eight tackles and one fumble recovery.

2007:Lawrence Timmons, LB, Florida State, pick No. 15 overall; Zero starts as a rookie… recorded 13 tackles, recovered two fumbles and no sacks.

2003: Troy Polamalu, S, Southern Cal, pick No. 16 overall; Zero starts as a rookie … recorded 48 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions