Now that the 2019 NFL Draft is underway, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: OLB Bud Dupree
Stock Value: Even
Nothing has really changed for Bud Dupree as a result of the 2019 NFL Draft. This season remains a make-or-break year for the fifth-year veteran as the team determines whether or not he can represent a viable option for a long-term starting role. They are past the point at which they can have him for cheap or to count on continued growth gained by experience.
Dupree has been a full-time starter for most of his career now, and while he has had some injury issues limit him over that time, it’s fair to say that his numbers have disappointed relative to expectations when he has been on the field.
Even though they are already thin at outside linebacker, however, the Steelers didn’t really make any major additions to the position this offseason. Outside of Reserve/Future signings and undrafted free agents, the only move that they made was to add the undersized Sutton Smith in the sixth round.
While there is a good amount of buzz on Smith because of what he showed in the MAC, nobody should really be counting on him to be making any waves on defense during his rookie season. Basically, there’s no reason to believe that Dupree won’t be on the field for his usual amount of snaps.
The question is who will be rotating with him, and that depends on how much growth Olasunkanmi Adeniyi shows. If the second-year former undrafted free agent shows up, he should rotate with Dupree on the right side while Anthony Chickillo primarily backs up T.J. Watt on the other side.
But, again, as mentioned, everything pretty much remains status quo since before the draft when it comes to Dupree and his 2019 season and whatever might come beyond that. It will ultimately be determined by what he does on the field, and he should get ample opportunity to show what he can do in his fifth season.