When the Pittsburgh Steelers saw Kentucky pass-rusher Bud Dupree slip to them at No. 22 in the 2015 NFL Draft, Mike Tomlin surely was grinning ear-to-ear as Kevin Colbert made the call for their first round draft pick. Since coming to Pittsburgh, Dupree has shown signs of being a quick study in terms of the playbook and learning the system.
Even after Dupree boldly declared he will make an impact as a rookie, it hasn't taken long for him to turn heads early in training camp. Neal Coolong of DKonPittsburghSports.com had this to say about Dupree's first go-around in the 'backs on 'backers drill at the Friday night practice at Latrobe Stadium.
A note that didn't make it in the Day 5 report but should have is the impact rookie Bud Dupree is making. His play on the field is one thing, but he's adding well to the volume of practices each time he lowers his shoulder.
There's a distinct sound when Dupree smashes into one of the tight ends he's constantly covering so far. He's not looking to take their heads off, but he is letting them know he's there.
He squared off against Le'Veon Bell in the first rep of ‘Backs on ‘Backers Friday, and it was probably the hardest collision of the night. The result, like many of the better matchups are, was probably a draw, as the drill itself isn't so much about the end result as it is the process in which that result is determined. Dupree attacked aggressively, Bell defended well. Any situation in which a running back is asked to block a rushing outside linebacker or defensive end for longer than two seconds is a failure on other levels.
Dupree was considered extremely raw coming out of Kentucky. In fact, Dupree is experiencing having an outside linebackers coach for the first time, and Joey Porter is certainly putting his stamp on the player Dupree is, and will become.
The question then becomes, will Dupree be able to contribute as a rookie? It is too early to predict such an outcome right now, but if Dupree continues on his current path there is no reason why he wouldn't be pushing Arthur Moats, if not for the starting spot, at least for playing time in specific situations.
One of the characteristics Dupree encompasses which others don't is the ability to set the edge and stop the run. Dupree is a very raw pass-rusher and lacked the technique coming out of college to scheme his way around NFL tackles. Nonetheless, his athleticism and speed allow him to play the run similar to James Harrison. If Dupree is capable of gaining the pass-rushing skills of Harrison, he will become the next player in the long line of great Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebackers.