Bud Dupree began his career as a raw rookie outside linebacker. Someone who didn’t even have a positional coach at Kentucky. He was a big lump of clay. It took time for the Steelers to polish him, and for Dupree to get and stay healthy, but the finished product is looking pretty good. Speaking with reporters Thursday, DC Keith Butler praised Dupree’s career progression.
“A long way,” Butler said. “A long way. I mean, he and T.J. [Watt] both. Karl [Dunbar] had done a good job with them in terms of getting them direction and getting them some of the things that’s necessary for a good pass
rusher, not only for those two but the front four.”
Dupree broke out in 2019, recording a career-highs in tackles (68), TFL (16), sacks (11.5), and forced fumbles (4). That netted him the franchise tag, a one-year deal that’s paying him handsomely in 2020, and he’s already begun this season on a high note. Dupree was arguably the best player on the field in Monday’s opener against the Giants. He finished the game with four tackles (two for a loss), one QB hit, and one pass deflection. We charted him down for a team-high six pressures, three more than anyone else on the team.
Pittsburgh harassed QB Daniel Jones to the tune of three sacks and over a dozen pressures while star RB Saquon Barkley was held to a paltry six yards on 15 carries.
Dupree’s career outlook didn’t always look this good. He struggled through injuries and a lack of power as a pass rusher. Through his first four seasons, he never had more than six sacks in a season, many writing him off as a bust who never put all his talent together. But good coaching, credit to DL coach for Karl Dunbar working closely with Dupree and Watt, and Dupree’s work ethic have turned him into an excellent EDGE player. An above average pass rusher and one of the best run defenders in football.
The only downside to his success is 2020 will almost certainly be his final in Pittsburgh. He’ll be a free agent again in the offseason. There’s no chance Pittsburgh will use the tag on him again and Dupree figures to cash in on the open market. He could potentially net $20 million a season as the price tag on pass rushers continues to go up. Based on his play, he’s well worth the money.