With the 2016 NFL Draft now over and the bulk of the heavy lifting done with regard to the roster building process now out of the way, it is easier to begin to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand at certain positions, and what the implications might be of a variety of moves for certainly players.
And take stock is what we shall do, as every move has ramifications up and down the roster, so now we will take a look at some specific players and see how the team’s moves during the course of the offseason thus far, and more specifically since the draft, has sent their stock rising or falling.
Player: OLB Bud Dupree
Stock Value: Up
Normally, you would like your recent first-round draft picks to be consistently trending upward, at least through their first few seasons, and that should be especially true from the first season to the second. That is the situation that outside linebacker Bud Dupree currently finds himself in.
Dupree has already taken the major step of earning a starting job over the course of the final six games, including the playoffs, of his rookie season, but now he has to earn more playing time, because he spent the year consistently platooning with Arthur Moats. Moats, in fact, actually played a bit more than Dupree after the latter was moved ahead of the pack in order to play on the first snap of the game, a largely ceremonial recognition.
It’s probably reasonable to suggest that Dupree’s head was swimming for much of his rookie season, but it says enough about him that the coaching staff was willing to trust him with comfortably over 500 defensive snaps as a rookie, which had been out of character for the Steelers on defense in recent years.
He still has a lot more that he needs to show, but what he did show is that he has clear athletic ability, a strong motor, and can play to his assignments without making a number of mistakes that turned him into a liability. Certainly, he did make mistakes, but he also made some plays, and his play will improve, and his mistakes will decrease, with the more that he learns.
Dupree played in a college defensive system that converted to the 3-4 while he was there, and they did not even have a proper position coach for him there. In other words, he did in fact come to the Steelers with a lot to work on in terms of the finer points of the position, even if he had already gotten work in as a dropping linebacker and as an edge rusher standing up.
Among the areas in which he is looking to improve this season are his ability to hold the point of attack in the run game while keeping his play-side arm free and developing a coherent set of counter moves in his pass rush, both obvious weaknesses during his rookie season. Now knowing what he is in for, it is more than reasonable to expect that the game will slow down for him and he will pick up some of the fundamentals of the position.