If there's one thing that's kind of annoying it's the NFL Draft.
This isn't to say the draft is so annoying, I don't follow it, talk about it and write about it every spring. However, the declarations made on draft night--mere seconds after a player is selected--are often so ridiculous, you want to turn off the coverage completely--even though that's virtually impossible. Immediately after the draft, there are winners and losers identified by experts and fans alike, who not only fall in-love or in-hate with what a team just did, they talk as if things such as players needing time to develop won't even matter. If they love a certain pick, this player is a future Hall of Famer; if they hate the pick, this player has no chance to ever actually become anything but a bust.
Speaking of busts, did you know linebacker Bud Dupree, the Steelers most-recent first round draft choice out of Kentucky, may actually be one? I thought the absolutes and declarations were done until at least the next mock draft; however, judging by how some people are talking following the only two preseason games of Dupree's career, he could already be a bust. Supposedly, because his lack of dominance or even adequacy up until now is a "real concern," at least to certain NFL insiders such as ESPN's Louis Riddick, who said just that recently on a radio appearance. As for some fans, well, they've already boarded the BUST! bandwagon and won't be getting off until Alonzo Jackson Blvd.
Need I remind you again that this talk of "concern" and "bust" comes after two preseason games and only a few weeks of training camp? In other words, if you took Dupree out of the oven, he would not only be really raw, he'd still be a little frozen.
As a writer who often likes to think outside the box when analyzing football and trying to make a point, I sometimes produce stuff that gets mixed results, ranging from "This is hilarious! Thank you for the laugh" to "This is the dumbest thing I've ever read, and BTSC should be ashamed to have allowed it to see the light of day!" To my credit, though, at least I'm aware that what I'm trying to get across in certain instances may be construed as wacky and that one of my editors might say, "Gee, I don't know about this one." And even I, the man who once compared Dick LeBeau to Jack Lord and James Harrison to Redd Foxx, have a high enough football IQ to realize that you shouldn't even be touching on the subject of a rookie first round draft pick being a bust before Labor Day...of his second season. And even if I did have those thoughts, I certainly wouldn't express them in a fashion that others around me would hear them or people on the Internet would read them.
Sadly, the bust and concern talk is what we now have regarding Dupree--as of now, just small smatterings of it--and I think that's a sad commentary for both the fans and even the experts who have those views. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Back in 1983, mere seconds after the Dolphins selected Pitt's Dan Marino late in the first round, Sports Illustrated writer Paul Zimmerman basically couldn't believe it and, famously, didn't "understand it," wondering who was going to build this kid up into even a competent NFL quarterback. I'd say, all things considered, Marino got the helpful guidance he needed from those quarterback gurus in Miami, and he "miraculously" turned himself into one of the greatest passers who ever lived.
No, Dupree has shown nothing so far that would make you even approach the other end of the overreaction spectrum and declare that he's going to become a megastar. But, if you remember back to the 2003 season, Troy Polamalu was leaning closer to bust than he was to megastar--at least in circles similar to the ones I described previously--yet he turned out just fine. While the media experts and fans were wondering how a safety who Pittsburgh had traded up in the first round to draft could look so lost in his rookie season, the people who did the trading and drafting probably knew they had the makings of a Tasmanian devil on their hands, and it was just a matter of time before he put it all together.
I will grant you that it would be nice if, just for once, a Steelers rookie first round pick came out of the gate strong and turned heads right away. However, Pittsburgh just had a run of three Super Bowls in six seasons, this despite very few rookie sensations other than Ben Roethlisberger and Maurkice Pouncey. Therefore, there must have been some sort of method to the Steelers draft madness in recent years.
The sad thing about 2015 is people like Paul Zimmerman aren't just on ESPN during draft coverage; they're everywhere on the Internet and among your network of friends who have your actual phone number and can text you at any time. "I can't believe the Steelers picked Dupree! I took him off my draft board a long time ago!" Oh really, Mr. guy on Twitter? Where is this draft board? Is it hanging in the basement, next to your kid's Nerf hoop?
Right here on August 21, what other 2015 first round picks have stood out to you that you think Pittsburgh should have drafted? Before you answer, need I remind you that, unless you're talking about Trae Waynes (and there's no way you are because he's a dreaded cornerback), you're basing your evaluations on a few weeks of training camp and just one preseason game. In other words, if you took (insert coveted first round pick that's not Bud Dupree here) out of the oven, not only would he be raw, he'd be so frozen, you'd have to go out to dinner, since there is no way anyone's going to wait around long enough for him to cook thoroughly.
Please, in the name of sanity, stop calling Bud Dupree a bust...says the guy who once wrote that the Steelers should trade Ben Roethlisberger for Joe Flacco.