Bud Dupree shines in position drills at pro day

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Every other drill to that point had been rather mundane.

The defensive ends and linebackers, charged with showcasing heavy, quick and (to use football lingo) violent hands, had been pushing around weighted dummies while a circle of coaches, scouts, reporters and former college teammates looked on.

Drill after drill, they pounded the bags and ran on to the next exercise. The last one involved included going against Cincinnati Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes in an individual drill that tested rush-move technique.

That's when Bud Dupree changed the tone of the proceedings, and rather quickly.

An audible gasp rang out late Thursday morning inside the University of Kentucky's Nutter Field House just ahead of an eruption of laughter. Not only had Dupree, the Wildcats' prized hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker, exploded perfectly out of his pass-rushing crouch, but he completely knocked Hayes, the man who could eventually be his position coach, 5 or 6 yards backward.

"He got a workout going against me," Dupree later said, laughing.

The awe-inspiring bull rush was the highlight of a pro day workout that was dominated by Dupree, the likely first-round draft pick who could go virtually anywhere in the top 32.

"It was important for me to showcase my ability and the change-of-direction ability and dropping in space," Dupree said. "I wanted to show that I could flip and change directions on my own like that."

Dupree didn't participate in any position drills at the NFL combine three weeks ago because he was slightly hobbled by a groin injury. He did go through three on-field drills, though, finishing with times and measurements that ranked among the top five at his position. His 138-inch broad jump was the third longest of any player at the combine.

Still, he wanted to show the 26 teams and three head coaches who showed up Thursday (Marvin Lewis, Mike Zimmer and Mike Tomlin) he could come off the line well and drop back in coverage.

"He's very instinctual and very versatile," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. "I know people use that loosely, sometimes but he really is. For us, he could have played either end in the 4-3. And if we were in 3-4, he could play Sam, Mike, Will or Jack. He's that kind of player. Instinctual. He can pick it all up, he's so versatile, he's explosive and he's got great size."

Even at 6-foot-4, 270 pounds, Dupree has a body frame that could handle putting on more weight, Stoops added. That could be important for some 4-3 teams that would like to cast him as a true, on-the-line end. The Bengals, for example, have been trying to bulk up their 2014 third-round pick, defensive end Will Clarke, to closer to 290 pounds.

With his pro day done, Dupree has private time with individual team representatives coming. He said he will be spending his spring break next week -- Dupree trains at Kentucky and is still attending classes ahead of a May 9 graduation -- traveling for visits. The Bengals, Chicago Bears, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts and Atlanta Falcons are among the teams he'll be meeting.

Once the visits end, his focus will turn to draft night.

"By now all the jitterbugs are gone. All the hard parts are out of the way," Dupree said. "Now it's about being myself and who I am. I'll just continue to work hard in the weight room and on the field, and just take this process in the best way I can and just embrace it."