The time for making excuses for Bud Dupree are over. It doesn’t matter how raw he was out of college, the injuries he dealt with, or whatever else we can come up with to give Dupree a pass for a lackluster start to his career. It’s year number four, an option year upcoming, and it’s now-or-never to feel confident in his ability to be an impact edge rusher.
A thought not lost on Dupree, who says he’s entering 2018 with high expectations.
“The ceiling I have, I’m nowhere near reaching it yet,” told reporters, the interview linked at the bottom. “I just gotta go out there and keep going hard, keep trusting the scheme.”
Keith Butler’s scheme could be another excuse for the lower sack totals, the Steelers’ outside linebackers drop more than most other systems, but even though T.J. Watt dropped about 10% more last season, he finished the year with one more sack than Dupree, 7 to 6.
Dupree is confident though this is the season where he breaks out.
“I gotta keep getting better and better every day. I feel myself getting better and better with each rep, each day, each training session…I’m going to be the best and be one of the most talked about linebackers in the league.”
As Dave Bryan wrote about yesterday, trainer Chuck Smith, one of the pass rush “gurus” is still predicting big things for Dupree if he can improve on the mental approach to pass rushing.
While his sack totals aren’t terrible, well above the Jarvis Jones realm of things, they’re underwhelming. 14.5 over three seasons (2016 was limited by injury, to be fair) and a large part of those sacks came through scheme or effort rather than winning with physical tools like a top-level pass rusher.
He’s had trouble finding a true go-to pass rush move, preferring to win off the edge but not threatening with enough of an inside game or ability to convert speed to power to get tackles worried about getting beat to the inside. A lack of bend has also caused some problems, too big and a little too stiff to turn the corner and finish plays where he does have a step. If he can add that counter, or now that he’s healthy, win with more power, he’ll be a significantly more effective pass rusher. That’s a big *if* however and confidence in his ability to do that has to be at an all-time low.