Believe it or not, the Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp on July 25th, and we are digging up the '32 Scenarios in 32 Days' segment to help us all pass the time. Once a day we will be drafting a potential 2015 season scenario, telling you why it will happen, why it won't and giving you important keys for the scenario to take place.
Scenario: Steelers rookie OLB Bud Dupree registers 5 sacks in the 2015 regular season.
Why it will happen: Bud Dupree possesses the rare size, speed and athleticism rarely seen in the NFL, and the game has seen it's share of freak human specimens. Dupree is as raw as they come, and sometimes players can rely on natural ability to be successful early in their career. During his time in Kentucky, Dupree showed an incredible first step off the snap, and an ability to make plays in run defense, as well as rushing the passer.
32 scenarios in 32 days: Gardner makes the 53
Will the Landry Jones experiment officially come to an end in 2015? In this scenario rookie Devin Gardner will personally put an end to it as he makes the 53-man roster as a QB/WR.
One of the main reasons this scenario may come to fruition is who is in front of Dupree on the Steelers' depth chart. Arthur Moats is slated as the starter at the left outside linebacker position, and this will be the first time Moats will enter a season as a starter, and despite stellar statistics in a part-time role in 2014, there is plenty of skepticism on whether he can fill the gigantic hole on the left side of the defense vacated by Jason Worilds.
Dupree might not be an every down player as a rookie, but if the Steelers can utilize his athleticism and put him in the best position to succeed, Dupree winning a one-on-one battle against a tight end or offensive tackle isn't out of the realm of possibility. Will Dupree reach double-digit sacks in 2015? It isn't likely, but can he reach 5 sacks as a rookie? If the Steelers play their cards right it certainly is a possibility.
Why it won't happen: As stated in the paragraphs above, Dupree is extremely raw. Raw to the point where questions have been brought up whether he will be able to beat an NFL offensive tackle. This isn't to say he will never be able to win those one-on-one matchups, but he may need a year in the system and focusing on his technique before he becomes an impact player for the Steelers.
Also, there is no reason to think Moats will be giving way to Dupree in 2015. After all, the Steelers re-signed Moats for a reason, and it wasn't necessarily as a security blanket. Some discredit Moats' success in 2014 to being inserted into games against tired tackles, yet that argument is hardly warranted considering players still have to make plays.
With Moats anchoring the left side of the defense, Dupree won't be forced into action on a regular basis, and because of that will ensure he doesn't have many pressures on opposing quarterbacks this year.
Keys: Whenever talking about a rookie's success a large part of the equation comes down to their ability to grasp the playbook and show they are capable of playing at the NFL level. If Dupree can do that, and show he has the athleticism to make plays at the professional level, there is no reason why he wouldn't be put into action in specific situations to help create splash plays. Dupree is one of those players who is lauded as having a "high motor" in terms of his tenacity and athleticism. Those are two attributes the Steelers could use on defense, and it could equate to Dupree seeing a moderate level of success (5 sacks) as a rookie.