Devin Bush made people pay attention Sunday, including the Ravens.
It was linebacker workout day at the NFL Combine, and Bush took care of business. He recorded the top vertical leap (40.5 inches) among linebackers and tied with Gary Johnson of Texas for the second-fastest 40-yard dash (4.43 seconds) behind Devin White (4.42) of LSU.
The performance will put to rest any questions about Bush's speed, especially for a player his size (5-foot-11, 234 pounds).
White and Bush are considered the top two inside linebackers this year, which is important for the Ravens in their current situation. General Manager Eric DeCosta has made it clear he wants to re-sign inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, a four-time Pro Bowler and one of the team's most important players. But with the start of free agency approaching, the Ravens must consider the possibility of losing Mosley, and how they would counter that development.
Bush has Mosley-like potential and his connection to Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh is obvious, having played for Harbaugh's brother, Jim, at Michigan. Harbaugh is already familiar with Bush's intangibles and now Bush has a strong Combine performance to backup his outstanding college career.
"What you see on tape is real," Bush said. "That's what you're going to get 100 percent of the time, and it's no fluke. I'm a tough player. I play hard, and my film speaks for itself."
Bush already has NFL bloodlines. His father, Devin Bush Sr., was the 26th selection in the 1995 draft by the Atlanta Falcons and played eight NFL seasons. Having a father who has already experienced the emotions leading up to the draft has helped Bush relax. Bush has been in regular contact with his father throughout the entire process.
"That's one person I can always lean on, one person that's never going to give bad advice," Bush said. "He's going to keep it straight up with me and keep it real.
"He always encouraged me to be the best person I could be. When I was young, he said not to play the game because he played it. I should play because I want to. He always made sure I was playing the game for me and not him. When I made the decision to play football, he always stood by me. He was my biggest critic. He was always on me, but he always helped me get better."
Bush can't control which team selects him, but his Combine performance will only help his draft stock. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah can envision Baltimore taking Bush with the No. 22 pick.
"We'll see what happens in free agency, but Bush, the linebacker from Michigan, he's somebody that when I watched him, I said, 'Okay, this is a Baltimore Ravens type player,'" Jeremiah said. "Maybe not the prototypical height, but he's got some serious thump. He's an excellent blitzer. He can run, cover and blitz. He would make a lot of sense there. If something were to happen with C.J. Mosley in free agency, I would think that one would make a lot of sense there."
After the Ravens drafted Mosley with the 17th overall pick in 2014, he became a starter as a rookie and has proven to be one of the NFL's top three-down linebackers. Bush was that same kind of player at Michigan, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 with 66 tackles, 8 ½ tackles for loss, and 4 ½ sacks. He was strong against both the run and the pass, and he was a sure tackler.
The Ravens had a strong inside linebacker combination last season with Mosley playing at a high level, Patrick Onwuasor having his best season starting next to Mosley, and Kenny Young getting consistent reps as a rookie. However, Bush fits the profile of a player who could be successful in their system – fast, aggressive, with a high football IQ. And now, he has a strong Combine performance leading into the draft.
"My film speaks for itself, and I'm going to bring it every day," Bush said. "I don't complain about much. All I ask for is an opportunity to play football."