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
Another game, another week closer to cashing in for Bud Dupree, and the fifth-year outside linebacker did nothing to hurt his chances of doing just that this past week with another strong performance against the Cincinnati Bengals.
While his outing was highlighted by a late strip sack on which he himself recovered the fumble that he forced, to essentially seal the game, he really turned in a complete showing overall, which included some strong run defense once again.
A lot of people are talking about the ‘leap’ that he has made in his fifth year, and not unfairly, but it does somewhat dismiss the steady progress that he has made in the past couple of seasons as well. He is absolutely and undeniably having his best season both in terms of numbers and tape, but it also didn’t just come out of nowhere.
The two biggest differences for him this season are the fact that he is the healthiest he has been since his rookie season and that the defense around him is much better. And it’s not even just about T.J. Watt being a dominant force opposite him and drawing double teams. It’s also Cameron Heyward and Javon Hargrave causing problems up the middle, and the secondary slowing down quarterbacks’ reads to make them hold on to the ball longer and have no escape valves.
Dupree already has career highs in nearly everything across the board, including tackles, sacks, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries. He’s getting up there in tackles for loss (already 10 on the year) and quarterback hits as well.
His free agency market is going to be very interesting, but it’s hard to imagine the Steelers being about to afford holding on to him. More realistically, they can expect to get a third-round compensatory pick for him in 2021. Not because he’s become a Pro Bowler, but because that’s what the market is for a quality pass rusher (i.e. Za’Darius Smith).