With Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree now in the midst of a career season, a lot of people are wondering what finally clicked with the team’s former first-round draft pick out of Kentucky that resulted in him becoming the kind of pass rusher everyone hoped he would become prior to his fifth season in the NFL. During the most recent episode of ‘The Mike Tomlin Show’, Bob Pompeani asked Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin to explain why Dupree is now finally playing the way he is.
“I really think it started a year ago when we settled him down and we swapped he and T.J. Watt and he became a right outside linebacker exclusively,” Tomlin said. “Sometimes stats and particularly sacks don’t always tell the story. I thought he found his traction in 2018 at the right outside linebacker position and this year has been more of a continuation of what we saw. He’s finishing more and getting an opportunity to get some sacks and so that really vividly illustrates what’s going down. But really in my mind, and a lot of minds of people around our program, it started in 2018.”
While I respect what Tomlin says about Dupree switching sides as a reason why the player is now dominating tackles like we’ve never seen before prior to this season, it’s worth noting that we’re also finally seeing the Steelers outside linebacker use and win with speed to power a lot more consistently and his hand use this season has been phenomenal as well. Maybe Dupree finally being fully healthy for once has played some into him becoming a much better pass rushing outside linebacker.
Dupree has a personal boxer trainer in Pittsburgh that he’s reportedly worked with for some time and it’s also well documented that he’s trained several offseasons under the watchful eye of Chuck Smith, a former NFL defensive end who is also known as “The Sack Whisperer.”
Whatever the reason is for Dupree suddenly becoming a terror as a pass rushing outside linebacker, it certainly is great to finally see it happen. His timing couldn’t be better as well as Dupree is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March. Assuming he stays healthy and productive throughout the second half of the 2019 regular season, Dupree stands to earn more than $16 million starting in 2020.
Should Dupree ultimately not remain in Pittsburgh past this season, you can probably count on whatever team ultimately signs him away playing him on the right side of their defense.
“When we made the decision to move him from left outside linebacker to right outside linebacker, this ball started rolling downhill from that day forward, and we’ve been comfortable with that and his play has illustrated why we’ve been comfortable with that,” Tomlin told Bob Labriola of steelers.com this week..