When Bud Dupree was drafted in the first round in the 2015 draft, he became the Steelers' fourth linebacker on the roster who had been drafted in the first round by Pittsburgh. Since the Steelers lost Super Bowl XLV, the defense has regressed in production, as evidenced by a decrease in turnovers and sacks.
Part of that has been the void left from when James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley who in 2008 combined for 27.5 sacks alone. Harrison's age caught up to him and saw a decrease in the amazing numbers he was putting up, and LaMarr Woodley's recurring injuries made his huge salary more of a liability than an asset.
In the past three consecutive drafts, the Steelers have selected linebackers in the first round with Jarvis Jones, Ryan Shazier and now Bud Dupree. There is no question that there is a major concentration within the management of the team to regain the vaunted pass rush that terrorized opponents for years and became the iconic feature of the Steelers' defense.
Dupree being part of the Steelers' plan with this new generation of playmakers on the front-seven, he has already understood the Steelers' legacy, and the necessity that this group of Steelers defenders restores the reputation of great linebackers that Pittsburgh has often enjoyed.
"I want to be in that group that brings it back," Dupree said, via Cleveland.com. "We want to bring back that hunger, that eagerness to go after the quarterback."
Fortunately these young Steelers still have great legends to look up to that have been part of great Steelers' defenses and been some of the bes pass rushers in recent history, both on the roster and in the coaching staff.
"(Harrison) has already taught me a lot in the small time I've been there," Dupree said. "Watching him and how he conducts his business is helping me get better."
Harrison's seemingly never-ending stream of workout videos evidences his great work ethic over the years, while his many great plays over his career accomodates the extent of his work ethic. Dupree being able to work alongside a living legend such as Harrison is an asset to both him and the Steelers. He can learn lessons from the former NFL Defensive MVP, both in his work ethic and in mastering his craft.
Dupree's athleticism makes him a prime candidate to be part of the Steelers' planned resurgence of an elite pass rush. His 6'4" 269 lbs. frame combined with his speed, exampled in his 4.56 40 yard dash, makes him a player that could be effective in multiple roles should he develop the necessary fundamental skills of a 3-4 pass rusher. This is why Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin made Dupree such a priority to draft in 2015.
"He's been an edge rusher," Tomlin said. "He's played in space. He's played stack linebacker. This is a very versatile and smart athlete. He's really a unique animal. He's capable of playing in space. He's capable of rushing off the edge."
The Steelers have a proud tradition of great pass rushers, linebackers and defenders that have played for the organization over the years, and often the legends of those players is taught to current teams and instilled upon the new generations of Steelers to inspire them to achieve greatness. It appears that as Dupree begins his journey in the NFL, that he too has already gained a respect for the Steelers' legacy, as well as the inclination to add to those legends.
"It means a lot for me to go there with all the great linebackers they have produced," Dupree said. "It motivates me to be great."