The top-10 buzz surrounding Kentucky edge-rusher Bud Dupree was a bit over the top given his limitations. At No. 22, though, where the Steelers selected Dupree on Thursday night, Dupree's upside will be less scrutinized.
The Pittsburgh defensive approach also could make Dupree an impact defender right away—he's a strong, athletic force outside, at his best when he can pin his ears back and get downhill. The Steelers will be able to use him in coverage, as well, which obviously adds to his value. The main knock (and the reason he dipped out of the top 10 down to this pick) is that he is very raw. That's true both about his counter-moves when he's blocked and his ability to diagnose a play. The upside is through the roof. Pittsburgh has limited options at OLB, even re-signing James Harrison again while hoping Jarvis Jones develops. Dupree's a fit.
Strengths: Versatile player who provides value everywhere from outside linebacker to pass-rushing linebacker to situational end with his hand on the ground. As a stand-up rusher, has tremendous first-step quickness and closes to the pocket in a hurry. Bends the edge in space quickly enough for blockers to struggle in adjustment. Can mirror tight ends and slot receivers in coverage and could be used very creatively in that regard in defenses with a high percentage of nickel and dime schemes. Moves into short and intermediate coverage adeptly, keeping his eyes front for running backs and mobile quarterbacks. Ideal build for a multi-gap pass-rusher—long arms and a muscular frame.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have the raw strength to play to his size—comes off the ball too high too often and can easily be taken out to either side by blockers. Occasionally will get poleaxed by outside blockers, including tight ends. Needs room off the edge to be consistently disruptive, because he displays limited hand movement and engages more than he sheds blockers. Go-to pass rush move at this point is pushing off the blocker to either side—must be more versatile with his technique. Overpursuit has him tacking bad angles more often than you'd like—needs to be more aware of his surroundings.
Player comparison: Akeem Ayers