Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for 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 move forward.
Player: OLB Bud Dupree
Stock Value: Up
I don’t know that there will every be a point at which people will be happy, or even content, with Bud Dupree, but at least so far through the first six games, the 2019 season has been his best. He is on pace to set new career highs in both tackles and sacks, as well as tackles for loss, and he also has a forced fumble on the year already.
Are the Steelers getting out of him what they’re paying for? I suppose it depends upon your perspective. If you actually look at the market at his position, and for players in a similar age range and timing in their career, his productivity relative to his pay is probably within the ballpark. Edge defenders make a lot of money, in case you didn’t know.
Over the course of the past season and a half, it seems as though Keith Butler has begun to ask his edge defenders to drop into coverage less as well, and that has helped the defense provide more consistent pressure on quarterbacks, something that Dupree has been a part of. He is probably posting his highest win rate of his career so far this year.
What has really been noticeable though is his work in the run game, which may be better than ever. Even when he’s not making the tackles—and as mentioned, he has a number of tackles for loss, and plenty of defensive stops—he is setting the edge or taking up blockers, funneling the ball carrier to others who will make the tackle.
That’s not to say that he has finally broken out or that he is pacing toward a Pro Bowl season. But this is probably the least that we have ever had to worry about Dupree and wonder what he’s doing. He has quietly had a strong season, and the hope is that continues.