*Rumblings, Musings Opinions*
1. Bud Dupree was looked at by some as a top-10 talent, Steelers among them, and others as a late first round prospect and went right where he should have. This was just one of those drafts that lacked elite talent where there were a lot of different opinions after the top three to five players in the draft. This marks the third straight draft the Steelers took a linebacker in round 1 and the fourth straight draft they landed a player that was rated in the top-10 on their draft board. David DeCastro, Jarvis Jones, Ryan Shazier the others.
Not everyone loves him though. Pro Football Focus had him rated as the 17th ranked edge rusher and 23rd when it come to how Dupree performed against Power-5 [conference] teams. Some feel the production never met the ability. Maybe it didn’t but Kentucky coaches argue that’s because he was asked to do so much as Dupree was also Kentucky’s best linebacker in coverage and in all three phases, pass rushing, run support, coverage.
As the board broke the way it did, the decision to draft Dupree came down to Dupree and Shane Ray. Dupree was slightly rated higher than Ray but there was a minority group of support for Ray in the room, sources say.
Word out of the organization is Dupree would have still been the pick if top cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Marcus Peters were in play.
With the Broncos trading up and drafting Ray right after Dupree, it will only be natural that Steelers fans will often compare Dupree against Ray throughout the next couple seasons, similar to Lee – Worilds.
2. New defensive coordinator Keith Butler didn’t have much success in developing outside linebackers. After LaMarr Woodley the Steelers have yet to hit big on one, minus a dominant eight game stretch for Jason Worilds in 2013, and the Steelers failed to get anything out of projects like Chris Carter. Joey Porter has his work cut out for him with Jarvis Jones but has a player in Dupree who is a coaches dream to develop with the size, length, athletic ability and a not a “me first player”. There were two players Porter loved during the draft evaluation process; 1. Vic Beasley, 2. Bud Dupree.
What stood out with Porter last summer in camp is how he spots poor technique from backers in a blink of an eye. He’s a very good teacher and there are some in the organization who feel Porter has the makings to eventually blossom into a defensive coordinator somewhere down the road and have opportunities in the college game. Some former players aren’t made out for coaching, but Porter is one who is the Steelers strongly believe.
3. The first two rounds went as expected for the Steelers in them coming out with a cornerback and outside linebacker in whatever combination. In round 1 Kevin Colbert called Bud Dupree a “gift” for the team and the board almost broke again on Friday where the Steelers felt they would have hit a home run, except they weren’t targeting a cornerback after all.
Pittsburgh had their sights set on tight end Maxx Williams, tried to trade up for him multiple times, but Williams kept falling and falling until the Ravens leapfrogged the Steelers and took Williams with the 55th overall pick. What’s funny here is Bruce Arians had a helping hand in moving back three spots to accommodate the Ravens nabbing Williams from the Steelers. On Day 1 Arizona was trying to get in front of the Steelers to take Bud Dupree and almost had a deal happen with Cincinnati at 21. Baltimore had a good first two days in adding wide receiver Breshad Perriman and Williams.
In Round 3, the Steelers added Auburn Sammie Coates. A very raw player who was plagued by drops in college but has the upside to develop into a dangerous receiver as a vertical threat. This will probably be a development year for Coates.
Coates is physically gifted at 6-1, 212, and had strong combine numbers running a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, had 23 reps bench pressing 225 pounds, and a 41-inch vertical jump. He finished his college career with 82 receptions for 1,757 yards and 13 touchdowns. Not a good route runner but can get deep and separate.
The Steelers draft went how it always goes. Go for need in rounds 1 and 2, then take an upside but raw player at a skilled position. They love to take receivers in the third, fourth round.
4. The Steelers had to come out of this draft with a day 1 starter at cornerback and that remains be seen because of the unknown factor with a player of Senquez Golson’s stature. For Golson the talent and production is off the charts. He’s an exceptional football player. The problem is a player that small, there’s just such an unknown factor and it’s going to be a huge challenge for him to be a starter on the outside against a league where receivers are only getting bigger, stronger.
“I really believe at this point in the draft, we are looking for someone with exceptional skills,” Carnell Lake said. “Senquez has exceptional ball skills. Every year at Mississippi, he had an interception. His last year, he had 10, which is, if I remember correctly, it was the top-two or three in college football. He’s just a well-rounded athlete. He turned down a lucrative contract to play baseball. He did an outstanding job tracking the football. Anytime you can get a guy like that who can pluck the ball out of the air, he has real value in the league. The league is a pass oriented league, it’s been transitioning for a while. It requires multiple formations, multiple personnel in the secondary on the field, a lot more personnel on the field than usual. A lot of times five defensive backs but sometimes six, and the more defensive backs you have on the field that can defend the pass, especially take the ball away, it’s really going to help us a lot.”
“He’s going to be challenged, there’s no question about that, just like they challenge all of our defensive backs. If you are 6-2 they are still going to throw at you or if you are 5-8 they are still going to throw at you. Senquez is going to have to come in and he’s going to have to prove that he can play in this league. We believe he can.”
The biggest question in camp right away will be Golson proving he can play on the outside. With the talent, ball skills, he could become a great nickle back inside but in college he played primarily on the outside.
Despite the size question, the Steelers had to get a cornerback early and while there was a run on cornerbacks before the Steelers picked in the second round, they haven’t drafted a player with these type of ball-hawking and play making abilities in 12 years since they drafted Troy Polamalu, as one Steelers source put it last night.
5. One common theme from the Steelers first three draft picks, all high character guys from a work ethic standpoint. When it comes to Dupree and Golson, they’re not boom or bust players like a Randy Gregory or Marcus Peters, though, Golson had some issues off the field with a disorderly arrest but nothing that the Steelers feel was a huge red flag. Dupree has star potential but there’s a very good chance he becomes at least a quality starting outside linebacker and the talent, work ethic is so strong for Golson that despite his size, he should be able to contribute as a No. 3 cornerback at the worst.
Prior to Round 2, SI.com ran a great feature on Sammie Coates, the person off the field.
— The Daily Five returns Monday –
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