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Bud Dupree states the obvious, “nowhere near” his ceiling in terms of production

The Steelers’ top pick in 2015 still has yet to live up to the hype, but it doesn’t mean he can’t produce as many expected.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

I recall the lead up to the 2015 NFL Draft vividly. After all, it was then when I took over this fine establishment and became the editor of the website. The build up to the draft was intense, as usual, but one prospect who absolutely throttled the NFL Scouting Combine, and therefore many thought would be gone well before the Steelers picked in Round 1, was Bud Dupree.

The Kentucky product was rough around the edges, in terms of technique, but was absolutely brimming with potential and raw athleticism. In other words, fans couldn’t wait to see Dupree busting around the edge and abusing the opposing quarterback.

What they saw instead was a player who was exactly as advertised — raw.

Throughout his three seasons with the Steelers, Dupree’s stats have left a lot to be desired, and it should be noted he dealt with injuries in his first two years with the team:

2015: 4 Sacks, 17 Total Tackles, 1 Pass Defense
2016: 4.5 Sacks, 19 Total Tackles, 1 Pass Defense, 1 Forced Fumble
2017: 6 Sacks, 31 Total Tackles, 1 Fumble Recovery

Not really eye-popping statistics from a first round draft pick, and Dupree realizes this. He was sent a very clear message this offseason when the Steelers were anything but sold on picking up his 5th year option, and it is time for Dupree to start producing on the field.

Recently, at the team’s Organized Team Activities (OTAs), Dupree talked to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler about his “ceiling”. Regardless of the past, Dupree’s potential is still there, but what needs to change for him to reach it?

Check out the interview:

Some will point to the Outside Linebackers coach, Joey Porter, for not teaching Dupree the technical aspect of the position needed for him to succeed. Some criticism there is warranted, but the brunt of the issue falls squarely on Dupree’s shoulders. For whatever reason, Dupree has yet to put together a complete season where he routinely beats the opposing blocker, and sometimes he is rushing against tight ends.

The Steelers have realized a change might be necessary, and have already started swapping Dupree and T.J. Watt on both sides of the defensive front in hopes of finding a spark throughout a game. Will it work? Only time will tell, but ask anyone if they feel Dupree is underachieving and I’m sure near 100-percent would concur he hasn’t lived up to his first round billing.

I should add Dupree is still capable of being an extremely effective linebacker in the Steelers’ current defense. Will he ever produce like James Harrison and/or LaMarr Woodley did in the Steelers’ classic 3-4 defense? If you are honest with yourself you know the answer to that is NO. However, with as much sub package football as Keith Butler deploys on a weekly basis, combined with the athleticism required of the outside linebackers in this scheme, Dupree fits the system well. The downside is in this scheme and system Dupree will rarely evernblow up the stat sheet like fans expect.

That is what we call at Catch-22.

Dupree knows he is nowhere near his ultimate potential, but will he find it this year? His next contract might depend on it.