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Bengals meet with Bud Dupree at NFL Scouting Combine

The Bengals could be eying the Kentucky Wildcats pass-rusher in this year's NFL Draft.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals need to upgrade their pass rush after it fell off a cliff in 2014.

After the defense registered 43 sacks in 2013, that number plummeted to 20 in 2014. That's not going to cut it, especially in a division with Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger, not to mention Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers being on the 2015 schedule as well.

That's where Kentucky's Bud Dupree could come in. One of the top pass-rushers in this year's draft, Dupree recorded 21.5 sacks over the past three seasons as a hybrid 3-4 outside linebacker/defensive end.

Per ESPN's Coley Harvey, Dupree and the Bengals met this weekend at the scouting combine, a good sign that he's at least in contention for the 21st-overall pick in this year's draft.

The 6-foot-5, 270-pound player listed as a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker told Friday that he had an interview set up with Cincinnati. Dupree also said he felt comfortable playing on the line as a rush end if the team that drafted him wanted him to do exclusively that.

Dupree could be the fourth edge pass rusher drafted after Nebraska's Randy Gregory, Missouri's Shane Ray and Florida's Dante Fowler. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. ranks Dupree as the 25th-best player in the draft, putting him right in the Bengals' range at pick No. 21.

The question with Dupree has been if he could play defensive end at the NFL level after playing more like a 3-4 outside linebacker at Kentucky. Cincinnati appears to think he could play DE in the NFL, which makes him a guy to watch out for come draft time.