This week in my first mock draft of the year I had the Saints taking Kentucky standout LB Alvin Dupree. The young Wildcat has come as a surprise to many NFL fans as Kentucky isn’t exactly known for it’s star studded rosters compared to other teams inside the SEC.
Duprees’ talent, however, can’t be questioned. Not only did he shine at both his Pro Day and at the NFL Scouting combine, but he has the game film to back it up. What is the biggest reason the Saints might want to nab Dupree? Rob Ryan will love his versatility. Sean Payton will love his maturity.
Jul 17, 2014; Hoover, AL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats defensive end Bud Dupree talks to the media during the SEC football media days at the Wynfrey Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
“Bud” was a quarter finalist for the LOTT Trophy, an award given to student-athletes who display high levels of integrity, performance, maturity, academics and have a tenacity and drive for success.
Coach Payton admitted in a recent interview that the loss of veteran leadership from players like Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Roman Harper and others was one of the reasons for the team’s struggles in 2014.
“I think the price of that experience and leadership hurt us some,” he said. “I think there’s gonna have to be a few guys we look at in free agency…” Payton addressed this issue in Free Agency by signing players like Brandon Browner, but drafting players in the same mold will help as well.
Curtis Lofton was a leader in the locker room and on the field. Bud Dupree can be both of those for this team. The former captain for the Wildcats finished his collegiate career with 23.5 sacks (was most by any active SEC player) and 36 tackles for loss.
A 138 inch broad jump (that’s 11.5 feet), 42 inch vertical (3.5 feet) and 4.56 40 yard dash really raised eyebrows at the NFL Scouting Combine. The 6’4, 269 Wildcat looks the part. For those who watched his film those numbers came as no surprise.
What else does the young leader provide? Consistency, solid performance and a burst off the edge that allows him to be effective against the run, in the pass rush and even contribute when he is needed to drop back in coverage. There aren’t many plays where Bud will “wow” you, but watching his game as a whole you become impressed by his intelligence and athleticism.
Using his elite athleticism he can cover receivers in the slot, pressure the quarterback or seal the edge. High Football IQ allows him to read the field to determine his response to the offense’s play.
Speed, power and finesse are all tools in his repertoire. In the following play against Missouri, Dupree takes the Tigers’ Right Guard and slings him like a rag doll to force the QB out of the pocket. Saints fans would enjoy seeing this happen to Matt Ryan and others in the NFC South.
Forcing pressure against the then top ranked Mississippi St. Bulldogs was impressive as well, as we can see in the following clip. From the LB spot Dupree splits the offensive line to flush the QB and bring him down for the sack.
Bud does have a Wildcat from the defensive side of the ball joining him in the NFL draft in Za’Darius Smith, but Smith holds a 3rd-4th round grade. Bud Dupree was far and above the rest of his team mates in terms of talent and performance.
Randy Gregory, Vic Beasley, Shane Ray, and Dante Fowler Jr. have gotten most of the attention as pass rushers. To separate himself from the others (except Fowler) Dupree has a versatility to his game that allows him to play multiple positions and fill multiple roles.
NFL.com’s draft profile analysis had this to say, “Outstanding power with ability to rag-doll tight ends at will. Should be an above average edge-setter. Good transition from playing run to rushing quarterback in play-action. Explosive closing burst.”
We have a player here who is more than just an edge rusher, but someone who has the ability to player in multiple positions and defend against every area of the opposing offense. A true three down linebacker. Those are becoming more and more rare in today’s NFL.
What might be the most important attribute for the Saints, aside from his leadership ability, is his sure tackling and knack for finding the football. As a Junior and Senior Dupree finished in the Top 10 of the SEC in Tackles For Loss, Force Fumbles and Sacks. He wraps up defenders and uses proper technique.
Dupree isn’t a player who is going (most likely) to flash future Hall of Fame talent. He isn’t a player who will (most likely) vie for Defensive Rookie of the Year. There are plays where he can get swallowed up in blocks by larger tackles. There is a rawness to him that will have to be coached and molded into a quality product. The Saints’ recently re-signed LBParys Haralson
would be able to tutor him.
What the Saints need is a solid starter, at multiple positions, who can not only provide depth but consistent performance on and off the field. The team has shed weight via trading away “star power” so that they can reload this team with more talent at more positions. Bud Dupree helps them do that.