With the 2017 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 certain 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, have sent their stock rising, falling, or breaking even.
Player: OLB Bud Dupree
Stock Value: Up
The future is looking bright for former first-round draft pick Bud Dupree as he enters his third season. How bright? Well, that is yet to be determined. But we have heard quite a bit to like about his progress over the course of the offseason.
The outside linebacker was drafted in the first round in 2015 knowing that he was not a finished product—even knowing, of course, that he was not terribly productive at the college level. But the real damper came when he had to start his second season in the league on injured reserve after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia.
Dupree spoke during the season that, once he returned, he was still working his way back from the injury, and that his flexibility and comfort level were improving every week. He did manage to record four and a half sacks over the course of the last four regular season games, and a half-sack and a hit that produced an interception in the playoffs.
But that didn’t mean he’d ‘arrived’. That simply meant that he has proven to be capable of ‘finishing’ his opportunities when he does get into the backfield. Now he has the learn how to into the backfield at a higher frequency, and to that end he has been working with a pass-rushing specialist that has previously worked with some members of the Steelers’ defensive line.
He is back there now working on his pass-rushing skills and repertoire during the down time leading up to training camp. We already know that he has all the natural athletic ability required to succeed at his position at the NFL level. It’s just a matter of becoming a complete player with a broader understanding of the game.
It looks as though we are seeing that coming along. If so, that would be the boon that the Steelers have been hoping for. Even assuming the virtual best-case scenario for rookie T.J. Watt, they would still need Dupree, or somebody else, to be able to make an impact.
We will learn much more about his progress once the pads come on during training camp, but until that happens, I remain encouraged by what we have seen and heard up to this point.