LATROBE, Pa. -- From the let-me-stop-what-I'm-doing-and-listen department, ESPN's Louis Riddick was talking about his impressions from the preseason on Ryan Russillo Show this week, and Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Bud Dupree's name came up.
"I think that’s a real concern," Riddick said. "I know it’s early. I know they’ve only played two preseason games. Bud looked no different against Jacksonville than he did against Minnesota in the Hall of Fame game. This is a guy who was a combine workout warrior."
Riddick went on to say Dupree's performance in the first two preseason games was similar to his Kentucky production. Dupree never recorded more than 7.5 sacks in a season while in Lexington. Kentucky's scheme (asking Dupree to drop back into coverage often) and minor injuries account for Dupree's numbers.
Riddick's stance seems to be this: With natural pass-rushers, you know fairly quickly whether they have the goods. Dupree doesn't have that jump-off-the-film dynamic.
Here are a few thoughts. Dupree has raw athleticism, but he's also fairly raw as a pass-rusher. The Steelers drafted him, I believe, knowing a reasonable amount of patience is required with his development. He's had a few moments where he stands out, using his burst to get into the backfield in a hurry. But that usually comes when he's got a free lane or beats the tackle with raw speed. What I still need to see is feel for the game, instincts, counter moves to get loose.
Dupree appeared to over-pursue a passing lane when he could have sat back and eliminated Blake Bortles' screen pass. Those are moments the Steelers can live with (for now).
Make no mistake, the team wants Dupree to take ownership of a starting job. That he hasn't yet isn't alarming. At some point during the season, though, he'll have to find a rhythm.