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2 of Mike Tomlin’s draft “reaches” have a big day for the Steelers vs. the Jaguars

The Pittsburgh Steelers got some major contributions in their tenth win of the season by two players who were labeled “reaches” when they were drafted.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers draft selections of both Terrell Edmunds and Bud Dupree have both been called a “reach.” A draft pick used on a player that could have been drafted later in the draft, while better players were available with that pick. Bud Dupree was drafted with the 22nd pick of the 2015 NFL draft, while Terrell Edmunds was drafted with the 28th pick in the 2018 draft.

Both were late first round picks, both were viewed as a bit of a project, but both were also athletic standouts, posting ridiculous all-around combine results and elite SPARQ scores. The Steelers valued that athleticism, as well as their character and personality enough to draft them higher than the draft gurus and most Steeler fans thought they were worth.

Both played as rookies from week 1, and while they earned snaps and starts as rookies, their statistical production has been consistently looked at as disappointing. For it’s part, the film has always shown flaws, but also the athleticism that allows the Steelers to use them differently than most players at their position.

This week, against the Jacksonville Jaguars, both Edmunds and Dupree showed up in the stat sheets and on film making plays.

1st quarter, 8:47. Bud Dupree is the edge defender to the top of the screen.

Cam Robinson tries to reach out and block someone, but unfortunately Bud Dupree is screening his calls, easily deflecting the offensive lineman’s hands and bringing down running back James Robinson before anyone can even warn him about the impending danger. The Jaguars took the opening drive of the game 52 yards and kicked a field goal, this was the first play of the second drive, and from that point on, the Jaguars would not have another 50 yard drive, nor would they score again in the game.

3rd quarter, 5:12. Bud Dupree is the edge defender to the bottom of the screen.

Cam Robinson gets a better start to this play, and is able to divert Bud Dupree up the arc. Dupree doesn’t settle for that though, and like he has many times before, comes in from behind to hit the quarterback and force an incomplete pass. With Dupree’s speed and motor that doesn’t quit on plays, he makes a lot of plays after his initial moves fail.

4th quarter, 14:56. Bud Dupree is the edge defender to the top of the screen.

Bud Dupree is fast, but he’s also powerful, and in the last two seasons he has been able to put that together more. On this rush Cam Robinson is able to get back fast enough to mirror Dupree’s rush, but he can’t get back that quick and keep a low base, and Dupree exploits that, driving Robinson backwards and getting ahold of quarterback Jake Luton for on of only two sacks the Steelers would record on the day.

Dupree was constantly in the Jaguars backfield, pressuring the quarterback and either diverting or stopping their run game. But he also made a play in coverage.

1st quarter, 0:18.

Bud Dupree does a great job breaking on this pass and gives himself a great chance to show off his hands and why he was moved to the defensive side of the ball as a freshman in college.

Maybe it is a good thing that Bud Dupree flubbed this interception, because his team mate and fellow draft “reach” Terrell Edmunds, who is well known for his lack of interceptions, would not let one get away in this game.

2nd quarter, 0:36. Terrell Edmunds is the deep safety to the top of the screen.

Terrell Edmunds ends his interception drought at 788 days when he corralled this overthrown ball for a gift interception. While you may discount this one, because it was thrown pretty much right at him, he still made the catch, something many defenders, and Terrell Edmunds himself fail to do regularly.

With the streak broken, Terrell Edmunds was all smiles.

As often happens when a bad streak finally ends, the player relaxes, gains a boost of confidence and you get more good results.

4th quarter, 8:41. Terrell Edmunds is the deep safety to the top of the screen.

This isn’t a gift at all, Edmunds shows his mastery of the art of holding so still that it renders you invisible, before breaking on the ball, tipping it up to himself and ending the second interception drought of his career at 18 plays.

Terrell Edmunds has been looking better and better as his third NFL season has progressed, and in week 11, finally broke his streak of games without an interception with the second and third interceptions of his career, both of them coming as a deep safety, something you may recall this writer repeatedly calling his worst position this past offseason. Bud Dupree took a while to start making the impact Steeler fans wanted him to make, establishing himself as a really good edge player in his 4th season. Terrell Edmunds has stepped up in his third season and is looking like a player you would want your team to draft in the first round. Dupree has already put the criticism that he wasn’t worth a first round pick behind him, and Terrell Edmunds is on his way as well. How much more can they bring to the table this season will be an important factor in how far this team gets on it’s quest to bring home a seventh Super Bowl championship.