Rashad Weaver wants to learn all he can from Bud Dupree.
The Tennessee Titans’ fourth-round draft pick, a defensive end out of Pitt, already has taught his veteran teammate a little something too.
Tennessee selected the No. 135 overall pick on Saturday. The choice, on the surface, provides another pass rush threat, a need that franchise officials have addressed in multiple ways this offseason. Most notably, the Titans signed Dupree to a five-year, $82.5 million contract in the early days of free agency,
Weaver (6-foot-5, 270) was a consensus All-American in 2020, when he led the ACC with seven and a half sacks and 14 and a half tackles for loss.
They already share common ground – literally – that extends beyond their new locker room. Dupree joined the Titans after six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, whose stadium, Heinz Field, is also where Pitt plays it home games. Plus, they crossed paths in recent months as the draft approached.
“I always watched him,” Weaver said of Dupree. “But when I was out in Arizona training, I got connected with Bud. … I’ve been out with him a few times and texted him. Me and him are already acquainted, and I will definitely be trying to learn from him.”
They also have a figurative connection, though.
Both sustained significant knee injuries. Weaver tore his ACL in August of 2019 and missed that entire season. Dupree is still on the med from a torn ACL that ended his 2020 campaign after 11 games and has leaned on the 23-year-old Weaver as he works his way back to health.”
“He was out at Exos, where I was at, recovering from his ACL,” Weaver said. “We chatted up, talked and had dinner. I know he likes to ask me questions about ACLs. So, maybe if I help him, he’ll help me even more.”
Weaver already seems to be following in Dupree’s footsteps. At Pitt, he racked up 109 total tackles in three seasons (35 games) along 34 tackles for loss, 17 sacks and four forced fumbles.
His focus is on making plays behind the line of scrimmage, and he sets a lofty standard for himself in that regard.
“I always set high standards for myself,” Weaver said. “I see myself as having a sack a game. I pride myself in that. I feel like I can affect every play, whether I am the one making the play with a TFL or sack, or I am the one taking on blocks so someone else can make the play.
“When you’re just posting guys up, shedding them and making TFL’s and getting in the backfield, and running backs that are used to getting six yards a carry are getting negative yards a carry. It just makes the game fun.”
Whether Weaver and Dupree are on the field together a lot for Tennessee’s defense or if the rookie selected with a pick acquired in a trade a day earlier is a reserve who gives Dupree and Harold Landry, the Titans’ sacks leader each of the last two seasons, an occasional break remains to be seen.
For his part, Weaver is not about to dig in his heels and expect to fill a certain role.
“I always say I am best naturally on the edge because that is all I’ve ever played,” he said. “But if I get reps inside or at the three or somewhere in practice, I think I’ll be just as good as that. I think I have the versatility to play up and down the line.”
And if he needs some help, he knows who to ask.