4 reasons Bud Dupree should never be compared to Jarvis Jones

As the Steelers season has come to an end, criticism from the fans towards individual players and coaches has started to come in. This is usual when the season ends short of expectations i.e. a Super Bowl win.

Some of the criticism is very understanding. However, there is one player that has been receiving a ton of criticism that doesn’t deserve it just yet. Although he may not have performed as well as people had hoped, outside linebacker Bud Dupree doesn’t deserve to be given up on yet.

The most atrocious criticisms of Dupree that people have been saying are that he is the same type of player as Jarvis Jones and/or Dupree, like Jones, is a bust.

With that being said, here are some reasons why Dupree is nowhere close to being the disappointment that Jones was.

Embed from Getty Images

It’s Still Too Early

Although people were also quick to label Jones as a bust before he left the Steelers for Arizona, Jones saw a lot more playing time earlier in his career than Dupree. Jones started eight games as a rookie and only recorded one sack. He then started seven games in his second season and all 15 games in his third season. In his final season with the Steelers, he started nine games.

Even with Jones starting and getting significant playing time during his four seasons with the Steelers, he never finished a season with more than two sacks.

Dupree just finished his third season with the Steelers. As a rookie Dupree only started five games and then only played in seven games in 2016 due to injury. The 2017 season was his first season as a full-time starter.

With that being said, we really haven’t seen enough of Dupree to determine how good he is truly going to be.

Dupree Has Been Much More Productive

As I just mentioned, Jones was a huge disappointment statistically during his time in Pittsburgh. One thing that a lot of people forget is that Jones was once mentioned as the top draft prospect in his class before being injured in his senior season at Georgia. When the Steelers landed him, many considered the pick a draft steal.

Those hopes were a letdown as Jones never finished a season with more than two sacks.

The one thing that Dupree and Jones have in common is that they were both drafted lower than they were projected. Growing up in Lexington as a Kentucky Wildcats fan, as well as a Steelers fan, I was beyond excited when Bud fell to the Steelers when many experts had him listed as a top ten pick.

However, unlike Jones, Bud has actually lived up to some of the early hype. As a rookie, Bud only started five games but was able to finish the season with four sacks. He improved those numbers to 4.5 sacks in 2016 (even though he was limited to playing in seven games).

In his first season as a full-time starter, Dupree finished with 6 sacks, which is three times more than Jones ever finished a season with. Through his first three season, in 38 games (24 starts), Dupree has 14.5 sacks with 67 solo tackles.

In Jones’ first three seasons, he appeared in 36 games with 26 starts. He would only amass 5 sacks with 54 solo tackles, forcing two fumbles to Dupree’s one. Jones would finish his career in Pittsburgh appearing in 50 games (35 starts) good for 6 sacks and 84 solo tackles. He forced two more fumbles in his final season for a grand total of four.

That amounts to 17 more tackles and 8.5 fewer sacks than Dupree in 9 more starts and a dozen more games played.

If you don’t buy the comparison, and still want to call Dupree a “bust” consider James Harrison, the Steelers all-time sacks leader, recorded 15.5 sacks in 41 games (12 official starts) between a three-year span of 2014-2016. That’s three extra games than Dupree played in over the same span with only one extra sack to show for.

Embed from Getty Images

Bud Is A Freak Athlete

One thing that I know about Dupree after watching him for four years at Kentucky and in his time with the Steelers is that he is an outstanding athlete. In college, he made several game-changing plays. (My favorite memory of him is when he took an interception back for a touchdown against South Carolina to take the lead.)

Let’s also not forget that he ran a 4.5 40-yard dash and had a vertical of 42 inches at the NFL Combine; which is extremely impressive for someone who measures up at 6’4″, 269 pounds.

In his career with the Steelers, I believe that he has continued to show his athleticism. He uses his speed to get past offensive tackles and strength to eat up blocks to free up other guys.

Dupree is also a reliable outside linebacker in the passing game. People may criticize him because he doesn’t have any interceptions in the stat book, but he has never been a liability and I can’t think of a single time this season where he was taken advantage of in coverage.

Opportunity

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Dupree dropped into coverage the fifth-most amount of snaps of any edge defender (3-4 outside linebackers or defensive ends in a 4-3) in the league. The fifth-most coverage snaps, 137 of his 850 snaps, are further skewed when you consider he played the 19th most total snaps among those edge players.

Percentage-wise, Dupree dropped into coverage the eighth-most of these defenders (16.12%). Of the edge defenders who played at least 400 snaps in 2017 and dropped into coverage more than Dupree, only two had more sacks than him: teammate T.J. Watt (7.0) and Baltimore’s Matthew Judon (8.0).

And for those expecting Dupree to have output like Chandler Jones (17 sacks) or Calais Campbell (14.5) should lower their expectations: of the top ten sack leaders in the edge defender category, only one dropped into coverage more than 5% of the time (Ryan Kerrigan, 5.98%, 13 sacks).

In other words, Dupree has had less opportunity both in the number of total snaps he plays on the field, as well as the number of times he actually rushes the passer, yet still finished in the top ten of (10th to be exact) of those edge defenders (who played at least 400 snaps this season).

What Does The Future Hold For Bud Dupree?

I strongly believe that there is still a lot of great football left for Dupree. The young duo of Dupree and Watt could be a dominant force for many years to come.

Some fans have toyed with the idea of trying to use Dupree as an inside linebacker, due to the injury to Ryan Shazier. However, I believe Bud is best suited as an outside linebacker.

Although he may not have the stats some people look for, Dupree can still pose a huge threat as a pass rusher. Sometimes that means freeing up his teammates for sacks. (Cam Heyward plays alongside Dupree and led the team with 12 sacks in 2017.)

A lot of people may see this as a very bold prediction, but I can honestly see Bud Dupree being an All-Pro outside linebacker at some point in his career.

7 responses to “4 reasons Bud Dupree should never be compared to Jarvis Jones”

  1. VinHudd says:

    I haven’t understood all of the harsh criticism I’ve read about Bud on a number of site by fans. Sure I would’ve liked to have seen more of a progression this season but like the article pointed out he’s still young. He’s no all-star by any means but he’s not on a Limas Sweed level of disappointing busts lol.

    • Joe Kuzma says:

      That’s what prompted us to write this. The stats alone back up what Brian and I were already saying all season long about the Steelers scheme and dropping Dupree into coverage. He still got six sacks despite having far less opportunities than his peers… and when comparing apples to apples, there were only two edge rushers who were in a similar scenario who outperformed him… and one of those guys is on the same team!

  2. Imperial Destroyer says:

    I agree that Bud is an amazing athletic talent, but I don’t see much in the way of skills. Since you mentioned PFF, I’ll point out that they have him ranked as the #98 edge rusher this season. That’s awful. With 2 edge rushers starting for 32 teams, that makes him theoretically worse than every team’s backup! I don’t see him making plays. He has only one pass rushing move. I don’t know guys. Outstanding athlete with little skill, just as he was pegged in the draft. I had hoped he’d develop, but it hasn’t happened yet. He has one more season to show something. I’ll leave the light on for him, as Tomlin might say.

    • Joe Kuzma says:

      Here’s the problem with PFF: we have no idea what their rankings are based on. Early in the year they had Joe Haden ranked in the low 40’s. There are plays you watch and unless you get a postgame comment by a player (say Ben Roethlisberger or Mike Mitchell, for example) you don’t know who’s assignment was what.

      I think that really skews the PFF ratings, particularly for someone like Bud. They finally came around on Haden (seemingly a week or two after myself/Brian were calling out how great he was doing) and a few others. They also dinged Maurkice Pouncey and Sean Davis pretty badly this season too.

      That’s why I take that Nth ranked rating with a grain of salt. PFF creates their own stats so you can’t see the comparison with tackles or sacks. Those are the biggest variables with an edge defender IMO. Most aren’t dropping into coverage, but Watt and Dupree are… and that really skews their stats. Yet, each still came away with 7/6 sacks… on less opportunties to get at the quarterback.

      I understand how some sacks can be “cheap” but I feel those are also counter balanced for those times that someone like Bud flushes a passer out of the pocket, and someone else, maybe Vince Williams, gets the sack instead.

      It’s precisely the argument you’ll see me make about James Harrison with the Patriots (which I plan to publish early next week). They were all over how he was a factor at the end of the AFC title game against the Jaguars, but on the stat sheet he didn’t show up at all! The very people complaining Harrison was let go, and praising that effort, are the same calling Dupree a bust. It’s not fair, and in the grand scheme of things, when you’re playing among the most coverage snaps while also having 100+ less total snaps than those other rushers being compared to, of course your numbers aren’t going to be as high.

      Thanks for the comment! There will be way more talk about this in the near future! 🙂

      • VinHudd says:

        Good point about flushing the qb out and someone else grabs that sack. I’ve wish there was an “assisted sack” or some better term for just that instance.

  3. Imperial Destroyer says:

    Excellent response, Joe! The best ones to judge Bud are his coaches, and our best info on that will be the next contract they offer him. Time will tell. I’d love to see him develop more.

    • Joe Kuzma says:

      Thanks!

      I have to imagine another team would snatch Bud up quickly. He’s way more gifted than Jones and isn’t nearly the liability he was. Plus first round picks tend to stick around for another contract or at least 2-3 shots with other teams before disappearing, unless they are complete busts.

      Even guys like Trent Richardson or Brandon Weeden found a way to stick around for years after their first stints.

Leave a Reply


Related Articles