Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: OLB Bud Dupree
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Adding two more sacks and two more tackles for loss in the Steelers’ win against the Browns, Bud Dupree continues to boost his stock as he braces for free agency in 2021, through which it looks increasingly likely that he will be paid handsomely.
Don’t look now, but Bud Dupree now leads the Steelers in sacks with five, and if you don’t mind jumping the gun, he is on pace to tie the team’s single-season record for the most sacks at 16—since he is averaging one per game. Of course, there are still 11 more games and 11 more sacks to get to and that’s a tough pace to maintain.
By and large, however, the sixth-year player is simply showing himself to be the same person that he was last season, and perhaps even better, more confident, more detailed. He has developed into a quality pass rusher and has been a strong run defender for years as well. He is a complete player, even if not quite a Pro Bowler.
While he probably won’t hit 16 sacks, he is in good shape to better his numbers from 2019 when he posted a career-high 11.5 sacks. That is pretty significant, considering the fact that the most sacks he had in a season during his first four years was just six. He is nearly there already.
But as I said, he is not just a pass-rusher but also a run defender, and he already has four run stops on the season, all of them tackles for loss. Both he and T.J. Watt have really been playing at a high level on the perimeter so far this season.
It’s no coincidence that he has been more consistently healthy over the course of the past year and a half. That has certainly been a factor in his ability to play at a higher level, but chalking up his performance to simply that would do a disservice to the commitment to continued growth and improvement that he has displayed during that time over the years, after so many had written him off. Now people don’t want to lose him.