With the 22nd overall pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected outside linebacker Alvin “Bud” Dupree. It is the third consecutive year in which the team used their first overall selection on a linebacker, and the second in three years that that selection was a pass rusher.
The surprise wasn’t that they chose to go for a third straight linebacker, however. Rather, the surprise was that Dupree was available near the bottom third of the first round of the draft, as many predicted that he may not even make it out of the top 10 selections.
Of course, not everybody was surprised to see that he slid, but I regarded his making it all the way to 22 such an unlikelihood that I left him off of my list of the Steelers’ most likely first-round targets on the basis that he was likely unlikely to make it to that spot.
I think it goes without saying that Dupree is a more appetizing pass rushing prospect than the names that I left on my list, including Eli Harold and Randy Gregory, both of whom slid out of the first round entirely. Shane Ray, a troubled prospect off the field, was selected one spot after the Steelers took Dupree.
The Steelers did get to know Dupree fairly well before selecting him, of course, as the higher ups had an informal dinner with him the evening before the Kentucky Pro Day during Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert’s scouting expeditions.
And what they learned, they liked, and it only reinforced what they saw in him athletically, with his tremendous potential for growth and his capacity to be a presence and an impact player.
It gave them a perception such that they deemed themselves rather fortunate to have the opportunity to select him without trading up, which Colbert acknowledged that they considered. He described it as a gift.
Dupree himself, no doubt, has somewhat more mixed feelings on the subject. While he certainly appears to be a fan of the organization and where he landed—even prodding into the workout habits of James Harrison—he was surely hoping that the Steelers would not have a chance to draft him.
Not because of the organization, but because of where they were drafting. Dupree, as with the majority of draft analysts, felt that he was likely to be gone at least within the top 15 to 20 selections, and a draft day slide down the board is never easy for an individual to bear.
It is an assault on the ego, to be sure. You often hear of players fueling themselves with the reminder of the slights of those teams that chose to bypass them. Dupree may be the type to do just that after describing the wait to be selected as horrible.
We, and he, may have to wait a little while longer, however, to see him on the field, because while he may be athletically gifted, he is an unpolished pass rusher, which will likely delay his path to the starting lineup. That lack of refinement is, after all, why he slid, and how the Steelers got their gift.