When Bud Dupree was drafted this past April, it was with the general understanding that, although he had a high ceiling, it would take a little time and coaching before he was ready to make an impact. While that has proven true throughout the first two preseason games of the year, it was good to see Dupree take some baby steps this past week against the Green Bay Packers.
Dupree’s first snap was a strong one, coming against a Green Bay offense that was backed up under the shadow of their own goalposts.
The first thing you notice is Dupree’s awareness to where the ball is going, where he may have simply fired upfield off the snap in earlier possessions this season. Instead, Dupree reads the play and pinches down to shut off his gap, forcing the back to re-route. Also notice Dupree’s arm extension here, keeping the tight end off his frame so that he can work himself free for a tackle if necessary.
As John Kuhn bounces (rolls really) outside, Dupree sheds the block and gets low for the tackle, not giving an inch to the big back. Good positional discipline and hand placement to keep the blocker off his frame, then shed for a big stop with excellent form.
On the very next snap, Dupree tries something I haven’t seen him do much as an edge rusher, a speed-to-power conversion. Dupree has such an explosive first step, but he always tries to win around the edge, and simply doesn’t possess great bend. His recipe for success should be to go through opposing linemen, as he’s explosive and powerful enough to do it. Utilize the burst off the line of scrimmage to engage the blocker while he’s off-balance, then power through him by initiating contact with a strong punch.
Bryan Bulaga actually does a great job of holding his ground against Dupree’s punch here, but I love that the young edge rusher is trying to convert his quickness into more physicality. When you can combine those two rare traits, you have the opportunity to make big things happen as a pass rusher.
Once you make offensive linemen re-set or can knock them off balance with a punch, you can start countering inside, using your hands, and really keep the blocker guessing. When you’re always trying to win the edge, you eliminate so much of your repertoire that you can make yourself easier to defend.
Dupree made another eye opening play in the second quarter, pursuing a stretch play to the boundary before shedding Richard Rodgers’block and helping Sean Spence drop James Starks for a loss of two yards. Watch him simply power right through Rodgers to get into the backfield:
Regardless of facing a low level of competition, it was good to see Dupree win the edge even when he doesn’t have a great get-off. Gets off the ball slow here, still is able to dip his shoulder and run the arc to the quarterback.
Dupree has struggled to win the at the top of the arc in recent games, and endured similar issues in college. Against more athletic tackles it won’t be this easy, but even the ability to win this way will keep offensive linemen on their toes and open to counter moves and bull-rushes.
There are still way too many plays where Dupree stops at the climax of his rush, or isn’t prepared with a plan of attack on each snap, but that will come in time. The most important thing he can work on as a run defender is his ability to read, diagnose and react to the direction of the ball. As a pass rusher, I want to see him continue to convert speed to power, which should open up his arsenal to win the edge like he wants to do. In both roles, hand usage and placement are going to be key to his ability to win at the point of attack. Sunday showed that he’s progressing nicely in both areas, a great sign for the talented edge defender.