Signing Dupree Would Open Up Pittsburgh’s Options In The Draft

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been active in free agency, but still have holes to fill to become a complete team. Thankfully the team has the NFL Draft in April to help improve the team, but with so many different positions needing depth or to be upgraded it would not be a bad idea to kick the tires on former Steelers EDGE rusher Bud Dupree to open up some room for the Steelers to work come the Draft.

Yesterday it was reported by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN that Dupree would be visiting with the Steelers. Given Dupree’s familiarity with the team, this visit will likely revolve around taking a physical to see if he is healthy. If Dupree passes his physical and does not demand too much money, I believe it is in the best interest of the Steelers to sign him to provide depth behind EDGE rushers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.

The biggest reason for this is that it allows Pittsburgh to have more room to play come the draft. The Steelers have five picks in the first four rounds, giving them ample opportunity to bring in quality talent who can contribute early on in their NFL careers. However, the team has obvious needs such as cornerback, inside linebacker, tackle, nose tackle, wide receiver, and EDGE depth.

Bringing Dupree back not only brings in veteran quality depth but also takes off a need in the first four rounds for Pittsburgh. If the Steelers have Dupree there is no need to draft an EDGE rusher early on. If they do not sign Dupree or another EDGE free agent, general manager Omar Khan and head coach Mike Tomlin would have to strongly consider using one the team’s first three picks on an EDGE rusher who would be used primarily for depth.

Last season when T.J. Watt went down the Steelers’ pass rush went cold. While Dupree, coming off multiple injuries, is not going to replace the talent of Watt or Highsmith, if God-forbid one of them go down, he will provide much better depth behind them than Malik Reed or Jamir Jones. The team simply cannot go into next season with only Jones and Emeke Egbule behind Watt and Highsmith.

So the question is do you want Dupree behind them or a draft pick? Given the amount of needs Pittsburgh has right now I would love Dupree there. Being able to have a little more freedom come draft day is essential. Right now the wide receiver depth in Pittsburgh is weak and Calvin Austin III, while having potential, is an unknown. If the team does not sign depth on the edge, drafting a wide receiver in the fourth round would be tough to swallow when other positions seem they need more help than wide receiver. At the same time, if the team waits until the seventh round (their next pick after round four is in round seven) for a wide receiver that seems very late.

Pittsburgh also needs a nose tackle to help in the run game. A productive nose tackle is something the team has been missing for a few seasons now. However, nose tackle isn’t the most glamorous position and one can argue more EDGE depth is more important than an upgrade over a nose tackle. Taking the need for quality EDGE depth away in the draft can allow the Steelers to find a good nose tackle in round three or four. For reference, Javon Hargrave was drafted in the third round.

While signing Dupree is not going to make Pittsburgh a Super Bowl contender, it just gives Khan and Tomlin a little bit more freedom in the NFL Draft. If he passes his physical it is in the Steelers’ best interest to make the reunion happen.

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