Leave it to the Pittsburgh Steelers to draft a position of need, and still find a way to get the fanbase to gather and assemble the torches and pitchforks.
With how unbelievably amazing the Steelers’ offense was last year; the idea that they could be better has put a crosshair on the team’s most glaring weakness, the secondary. Maybe the only thing outside a Le’Veon Bell knee injury that kept the Steelers from making a run in the playoffs was a secondary that allowed the 27th most yards in the air per game.
The Swiss cheese-esque secondary has long been a problem before stalwarts Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor decided to hang up the cleats, but their decision to call it quits the same offseason only heightened the dire need to address the position.
Ignored long enough, Pittsburgh hasn’t taken a corner in the first round since Chad Scott in 1997, but the 2015 edition seemed like the best opportunity to break that unfortunate trend.
With anywhere from four to six corners given an outside shot to be selected in the first round, it looked like – at pick 22 – the Steelers would have every opportunity to take one.
Maybe that was the plan all along, until their top three corners were taken and a player that they believed was a top ten talent slipped to them, selecting Kentucky linebacker Bud Dupree – their third straight season taking a player at that position in the first round.
Pittsburgh Steelers: A New Beginning Starts With Bud Dupree
Say what you will, a cornerback may have been hands down the biggest need for the Steelers but an edge rusher wasn’t too far behind.
You know the story by now, Jarvis Jones hasn’t quite worked out in his first two years and veteran James Harrison will be 37 years old in a few days. Arthur Moats served admirably in the opportunity given, earning him a new contract in the process but the once proud position of outside linebacker needed a spark.
Better yet, new coordinator Keith Butler needed that raw talent at his disposal as he unveils a new era in the Steelers defense. Described as a ‘unique animal’ by Mike Tomlin, Dupree stands at 6’4” and weighs out at 270 pounds – and ran a 4.56 at the combine.
Those are things you can’t teach. So is his ‘ability to rag-doll tight ends at will’ as his NFL.com profile reads.
Didn’t the Baltimore Ravens just leap frog the Steelers to take a tight end?
That’ll be fun to watch.
What can he be taught? He has everything needed to be a very, very successful linebacker at the NFL level he just has to be, taught. Good thing his coordinator did just that for over a decade before moving up, and his current position coach was maybe the greatest result of Butler’s teaching.
It wasn’t the position the team (fans) wanted, but there is no doubting the team can benefit from his skill set in way that potentially reaching for a corner they didn’t feel was worthy of the 22nd pick.