Steelers’ Player Preview: Bud Dupree
All around, the Steelers have gotten high grades for their recent haul from the NFL Draft, but how do high grades in May translate to production in September?
My next few posts will take a look at the potential roles of the newly acquired prospects.
Bud Dupree: The Steelers certainly have a reputation for not playing their players too quickly. There have been plenty of guys that had to sit on the sideline for the first few years of their career. They earn the coaches’ trust on the practice field.
That being said, Keith Butler takes over as defensive coordinator and there will undoubtedly be some changes. Perhaps giving young guys a chance to contribute early is one of them.
In addition to Butler’s new role, there is evidence that changes have already been coming. Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shazier each had a chance to play some significant football in each of their first years.
With disappointing sack totals last year, the Steelers don’t have much of an excuse to keep the large and athletic Dupree off the field. Raw talent should be enough to get him on the field, but his technique will dictate his effectiveness.
There is no doubt that Dupree is a world class athlete. His quickness off the snap is just plain fun to watch. He has to be more active in preventing blockers from getting their hands on him. This will be tough since he showed a tendency to let his hands down in college and his arm length (32”) is short by NFL standards.
Nonetheless, outside linebackers coach, Joey Porter, said earlier this month that the aging James Harrison would see a designed decrease in playing time–an effort to keep the linebacker fresh. This decrease could mean a greater opportunity for Dupree to see the field.
Porter also indicated that there will be competition in his group of players. According to a Post-Gazette article by Ed Bouchette, Porter had this to say about the outside ‘backers:
"The room is going to be intense… We just took another first-rounder. We have two first-round outside linebackers with a former NFL defensive player of the year in that room… The competition is going to be set at a high level and I’m going to expect everybody every day to come to work with their hard hat on. They’re going to have to get after it because there are only so many spots that we can keep because we have a deep middle linebacker group with a deep outside linebacker group now. They’re going to be scratching and clawing for some playing time."
His main competition will likely be Arthur Moats. Moats, a free agent signing from last offseason, came in and outperformed his one year contract. He is a good special teams player and a capable defender for spot work. Dupree’s upside could provide him the edge over Moats.
So, if Dupree does see the field it will likely be in a somewhat limited role. His size and speed will win him some battles, but technique could be an issue at the NFL level. That will be something to watch in minicamps, training camp, and preseason.
He’ll match up favorably if he gets blocked by running backs or tight ends, and he should win those battles. I don’t think there is any question that Dupree will see the field in 2015. His play and, as we’ve seen with Jones and Shazier, health will dictate how much of it he sees.
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