The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Bud Dupree will pick up where he left off last season and have an even better year.
Explanation: While somewhat uncommon, it’s far from unheard of for a player to begin to truly come into his own in the middle part of a lengthy career. This is especially the case for players who have dealt with injuries for some stretch. Dupree is such a player, coming off a career year in 2019, with the opportunity to show that it was just the start of his peak.
I really think that health cannot be overstated when it comes to Dupree. While he may be a second- or high third-tier starter as an edge defender, he is a player that you can plug into your defense and not worry about. Maybe you don’t want him as your star pass rusher, but he is a strong Robin to a T.J. Watt as your Batman.
The 2019 season was by far Dupree’s healthiest season since his rookie year. It was also the first time he worked with Keith Butler directly as his position coach. He has learned from Watt, and grown from that bond, as well as the competition.
That’s still there. The drive is still there. The quest to be paid and earn his keep will still be there. And I fully believe he is also a guy who wants to win a championship, and to do it in Pittsburgh.
All of the feelgood stuff is nice, but the bottom line is that he is an average player when it comes to winning in the pass rush game. His 11.5 sacks are anomalous based on his career. He didn’t win at a higher rate than he normally does, he just finished more plays, and we can’t say that he will continue to finish more plays. Pressure rate is much more consistent a measurement than sack rate.
Yes, he will continue to play good run defense, but will he be better than last year? Probably not. 2019 was his peak. The Steelers just have to hope that his continued play is still somewhere in the ballpark.