There are a lot of areas of need for the Cleveland Browns in the upcoming NFL Draft. Certainly one could say wide receiver is a top priority. Some fans see offensive tackle as a potential area in need of upgrade. While there's some debate on what is actually the biggest need for the Browns, there's not a lot of debate around the Browns pass rushing prospects. Most fans agree the Browns need an edge rusher.
With two picks in the first round, Cleveland can go a few directions. There's a good amount of talent in the edge rusher realm, so the Browns may have someone fall to them at #12 or #19 overall. That is, if they decide to go that direction.
If the Browns elect to go with an edge rusher in the first round, one of the guys they could be selecting from is Alvin "Bud" Dupree. The Browns recently met privately with Dupree a week or so back.
Dupree is considered to be a first round selection by most, and most services have him ranked anywhere from top-15 overall, to 40-50th overall range. There seems to be a lot of potential with Dupree, but a good amount of questions as well. So, I reached out to SB Nation's University of Kentucky blog, A Sea Of Blue, for some answers.
Will Marshall (@awillmarshall) was kind enough to respond to a few questions on Dupree. Check out the Q&A below, and also the linked article ('Must Read' further down) from last fall that Will put together recapping Bud's time at UK. (My questions are bolded, Will's responses follow)
1. Dupree is listed mostly as an Edge rusher, whether that's a DE/OLB is to be determined by scheme. Where do you see his best fit, 3-4 OLB, 4-3 DE, etc?
Dupree's frame and skills suggest he'll make a better 3-4 OLB than a 4-3 DE in the NFL. I believe Dupree could make the transition to a traditional 4-3 defensive end in the NFL with a few seasons of maturation and training, but he's projected to be drafted in rounds where he'll be expected to play and contribute in Year One. Dupree has ideal athleticism and natural open field tackling that would serve him better playing out of a 3-4. I don't think he'd be strong enough to play a 4-3 defensive end for a few seasons.
2. He put on a quite a show at the Combine, and really his stock has risen as a result of that. However, he gets labeled as a guy that doesn't always put that on tape. Do you see this, and if so, where is the disconnect?
The fact Dupree showed out at the Combine was little surprise to UK fans who have gotten to watch him the last few seasons. It's become cliche to label a player as a "freak", but that just about sums up Dupree.
The narrative that Dupree goes missing on tape is a valid one, though I believe it misses out on some nuance. Dupree had his off games or series like most players for starters, but there were also instances of the offense running away from him, double-teaming him on obvious passing downs, or trapping UK into split him wide and cover in the slot which took him away from the line of scrimmage whenever UK got stuck with certain defensive personnel on the field.
UK also had poor defenses since Dupree was on campus, especially a terrible run defense. UK was hard-pressed to put offenses in obvious passing downs, which prevented Dupree from doing what he does best and rushing the passer. He missed out on a lot of opportunities to improve his stats further because the rest of the squad weren't always doing their jobs. At the end of his career, he finished with 23.5 sacks which was nearly a school record and one of the highest of any player currently in the SEC.
3. Known as a pure speed pass-rusher, how deficient is his run support, and is that his biggest weakness?
His run support on the edge, in space, was above average in college. That may drop off a bit at the next level initially. His biggest weakness last season, and even in 2013 when he played a 4-3 DE, was run support within the 5 technique box. Winning his block, shedding, and making a tackle at the LoS was not something he was consistently able to do. He was quick enough to shed the blocker, and make the tackle 3 or 4 yards downfield, but that's not ideal.
4. All the measurables can be overblown sometimes, but does his lack of length (arm's aren't particularly long, smaller hands, etc) hurt him much?
I wouldn't say a whole lot because he plays with pretty good technique. Dupree is especially good at chopping offensive tackles hands. He'll need to build on that move at the next level, so his lack of length may start to be a problem until he diversifies his moves.
5. He's known for being an extraordinarily hard-worker, driven, team-leader type. Outside of his freakish-athleticism, is that his best attribute?
Absolutely. By all public accounts he was a good student, didn't get in trouble, and was a leader the last two years in the locker room. He was extremely coachable, and you could see him get a little bigger every offseason, and a little better as each season progressed. He'll definitely be a positive force in the locker room, be active in the community, and his attitude along with his physical tools will make him very good after a few years in my opinion.
6. Ultimately, where do you think he'll get drafted?
It sounds like he's almost assured being drafted in the first round at the moment. At UK's Pro Day there were several teams present, but the two with the highest picks were the Falcons (8th pick) and Minnesota (11th). I think he goes somewhere between 10th and 20th plus or minus two slots.
A big thank you again to Will. Discuss in the comments your reactions and thoughts to Will's responses.