There is a burden which accompanies being a first round draft pick in the NFL. Pittsburgh Steelers prized pick Bud Dupree has felt the pressure, and hasn't resembled the player fans were thinking they drafted with the 22nd overall draft pick in the 2015 draft.
You might want to remember the team's preseason victory over the Green Bay Packers Sunday where Dupree put a great deal of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, had a hand in on the Aaron Rodgers safety, added another sack and two solo tackles to add to a solid day. It very well might have been the game where Dupree's mental "light bulb" went on.
If you haven't yet, listen to the interview with Dupree in the sound bar above. Listen to his voice as he fields questions on his game, the defensive pressure and how the defense played against the Packers Sunday. It is almost as if you can hear the relief in his voice - a young man who has finally tasted success, even if a very small amount, at the professional level.
This is probably one of the better scenarios for the Steelers' first round pick. The Steelers return to Heinz Field, the home crowd, and Dupree is able to see some success in his time on the playing field. Dupree's improving game is absolutely a good sign for a Steelers team desperate for an outside linebacker who can make plays on a regular basis. Dupree might not be able to be the full-time starter in Week 1, but a combination of Arthur Moats and Dupree could be a success.
If you watch the Packers game again, you see a different Dupree than the player you might have watched in the games prior against the Vikings and Jaguars - a player who did exactly what he said; just relax and play. In the prior two games, Dupree was noticeably slower based on him over-thinking his responsibilities. Whatever Keith Butler and the coaching staff did in the week leading up to the Packers game, they would be wise to do again.
Dupree is still extremely raw, but if the team can get a steady amount of improvement from Dupree, by season's end he will be a player to watch on the Steelers' roster. It was nice to see the Steelers be able to rack up 6 sacks against a myriad of Packers quarterbacks, but it was especially nice to see Dupree finally break through and make plays.
For Dupree, the sky is the limit, and we might have just witnessed him finally leave the ground.