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Best AFC North Additions: No. 5, Bud Dupree

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Bud Dupree may have fell to the 20s in this year's draft, but he may have as big of an impact this year as any AFC North rookie.

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One of the most intriguing prospects of the 2015 NFL draft was Kentucky pass-rusher Bud Dupree.

At 6'3", 270 pounds, Dupree played in a 4-3/3-4 hybrid scheme that saw him used as more of a 3-4 outside linebacker than a 4-3 defensive end. This past season, Dupree led all SEC defensive linemen with 74 total tackles to go with 12.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 quarterback sacks.

He finished his four-year college career with 23.5 sacks, 247 tackles, 38 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles while starting in the final 38 games of his career. Dupree was a terror off the edge, and he could thrive in the NFL if used properly.

What makes him so intriguing is his immense talent and potential, which were evident in brief glimpses in college, as well as his showing at the NFL Scouting Combine. His official time of 4.56 in the 40-yard dash was tied for third among linebackers. Even more impressive was Dupree ranking first among linebackers with a broad jump of 11 feet, 6 inches. His 42-inch vertical jump was second at his position.

He is a freakish athlete who moves from sideline to sideline in the same way quality NFL linebackers like Jamie Collins do. That's who's Lance Zierlein compared Dupree to as a draft prospect:


BOTTOM LINE Dupree is an explosive, powerful athlete with a background in basketball. While he's been productive at Kentucky, his tape doesn't always do his potential justice. He must continue to improve as a pass rusher, but his traits are undeniable.

Needless to say, Dupree was a freak of an athlete, but without showing it enough on the field, he fell to Pittsburgh at the 22nd pick in this year's draft. Though he fell further than expected, Dupree is in a great situation where he'll be given a great chance to thrive during his rookie year in a Steelers' defense that's in flux.

Dupree's best chance to succeed in the NFL was going to be as a 3-4 rush backer, not as a 4-3 defensive end as some projected. Bengals fans clamored for Dupree to be the pick at No. 21, but he simply won't hold up in the league if he's ask to put his hands on the ground and line up in front of NFL tackles every snap.

His weakness in run defense can be masked more easily while giving him more spots to rush the passer from, whereas a 4-3 defensive tends to rush from outside. Dupree rushed from both the outside and interior at Kentucky, and allowing him to move around the line of scrimmage is probably what's best for him in the NFL.

The Steelers don't have much at outside linebacker beside the 37-year-old James Harrison. Arthur Moats and Jarvis Jones combined for just five sacks last year. They desperately need a spark in their pass rush, and Dupree should give them that as a rookie.