It took longer than most would’ve liked, Bud Dupree included, but Dupree had a coming-out party in 2019. To the tune of 68 tackles, 11.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles, all easily career highs. That earned him a hefty franchise tag and likely large contract either with Pittsburgh before the July 15th deadline or when he hits free agency next season.
Fellow OLB TJ Watt jumped on 93.7 The Fan with Colin Dunlap and Chris Mack and was asked what he attributes Dupree’s success to.
“Bud works his tail off. I think Bud is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around. I think he’s bought in and watched a lot of film. We’ve talked everything from snap count to foot placement, hand placement. We’re just gelling together on and off the field. I think he’s been able to explode on the scene.”
Dupree has routinely trained hard during the offseason, often seen working with pass rush specialist Chuck Smith in Georgia. It finally paid off for him. Watt and Dupree combined for 26 sacks a year ago, the most by a Steelers’ edge rush duo since James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley combined for 27.5 in 2008. Watt was a legitimate defensive MVP while Dupree showcased the talent that got him drafted in the first rounds. Those two aren’t just great pass rushers either. They’ve become complete players with sound run defense and fanatical motors.
Watt also credited improved secondary player, the notion of rush and coverage working together, that helped the pass rush get home.
“I think that it’s also a testament to everybody else in the defense playing so well. We have guys in the back and they’re really locking things down. We got the linebackers in the middle that are just flying around and then obviously the guys up front are able to stop the run and then create a lot of pressure. Which allows Bud and I to have some fun.”
Pittsburgh put together one of the league’s most talented defenses in football, compiling first round picks from in-house and outside the organization.
Dupree will have to prove he isn’t a one-hit wonder with another strong 2020. For him, staying healthy will be key. While Dupree has shown to be a tough player pushing himself through injury, last season was the first time he didn’t seem to have a nagging or even serious injury he was working through. If he has another double-digit sack season, he’s in-line for a massive payday. Either by the Steelers or somewhere else in the league.