After posting such mind-boggling numbers at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine in February, it was clear Kentucky’s Bud Dupree was going to skyrocket up draft boards. Some even had him mocked in the top ten picks. However, as the Pittsburgh Steelers round one selection crept closer Thursday night, it became clear who they would take between the athletic phenom or two other edge rushers, Shane Ray and Randy Gregory, with loads of off-field problems.
His size is something he brings to the table to a Steelers’ outside linebacking corps in need of some talent, but it’s his measurables that stick out like a sore thumb. He ran a 4.56 in the 40, at 269 pounds. That’s faster than most of the running backs in attendance, some of which are 50 or so pounds lighter. He showed off his explosiveness with a 42-inch vertical jump, and his 138-inch broad jump was the longest by a linebacker since Jamie Collins, with whom NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compares him to.
“We’re really excited,” Steelers GM Kevin Colbert told Bob Labriola of Steelers.com. “The other day during the press conference we talked about the outside linebacker position being very deep with several impact players and we believe we got an impact player in Bud Dupree. It’s really exciting that he was able to be there for us at No. 22. Quite honestly that was something we didn’t expect to happen.”
After posting those numbers, scouts went back to the game tape and likely saw some inconsistencies to his game. However, after playing in a variety of defensive schemes over his tenure at Kentucky, he still put up numbers, with 23.5 career sacks, including 7.5 in 2014. With athletic gifts such as his, putting his locker directly next to James Harrison would be a very smart idea.
Being taken under Harrison’s wing (or massive lat muscle) would do wonders for Dupree, and allow him to see what the work it takes to become an NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
With Dupree’s size, one would naturally associate him with another former Steelers outside linebacker, LaMarr Woodley.
“That’s why, really, when you watch him work out as we did at his pro day, you had to keep reminding yourself that this guy is 6-foot-4 and 269 pounds,” Colbert said according to Steelers.com. “He doesn’t look that big until you get up close to him, and you figure this guy is a big guy. ”
Unlike Woodley though, Dupree doesn’t have a belly hanging over his game pants, and doesn’t appear to have very much body fat at all on his frame. Tomlin doesn’t see a whole lot of correlation between the two players, as Woodley was a 4-3 defensive end making the transition to standing up in the Steelers’ scheme, whereas Dupree has done both already.
“Bud has played on his feet and played detached from the core,” Tomlin said. “He showed a much wider variety of skill set on his college tape. You can find some comparisons in terms of measurables or weight. It really kind of ends there.”
Now, onto day two of the NFL Draft festivities, there is a tremendous amount of talent still left that should be there when the Steelers go back on the clock again, barring a trade, at pick 56. In the second round, names such as Eric Rowe, Landon Collins, Maxx Williams and Jordan Phillips could entice the team if any slip to their pick. A dark-horse pick, in my opinion, is wide receiver Jaelen Strong, who was brought in for a pre-draft visit. I liken this situation to the 2011 draft, where the Packers, in the second round, grabbed Randall Cobb, seemingly a luxury pick considering they had a glut of receiving talent in Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and the ageless wonder, Donald Driver. The Steelers seem to be set too at their three spots with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton but who’s to say they won’t pull a similar move?
A lot of pundits will clamor the second-rounder ABSOLUTELY has to be a corner, but that’s exactly when Colbert and company will throw out a curve ball, and do what they do best, take the best available, just like Dupree. It’s a pick myself, and Steelers fans alike should be rejoicing, because if his hard work can match his unlimited physical talents, the team will have the steal of the draft and a truly special player on their hands.
“He can surely play the point,” Colbert said. “He can power rush. He can speed rush. He can put moves together. He can rush off of two feet or out of a three-point stance. And he can cover. So really this is a gift for us to be able to get this guy at pick twenty-two.”