Alvin "Bud" Dupree, OLB, Kentucky
NOTE: this post is long-word format. I’ve included a td;dr at the very bottom if you want the Cliff Notes version.
Sometimes I get some (mostly friendly) crap from my friends for being a fan of both an NFC and an AFC team. "It gives you conflicted rooting interests!", they say. "It’s like you’re always ready to bail on the Eagles!", I hear. Poppycock, says I. I’ve been fascinated with the Chargers since the halcyon days of Rivers, Gates, LT, Sproles, and VJax, and they’ve given me a second game of football to watch with a serious rooting interest every weekend. I also really enjoy Philip Rivers’ douchey bravado, and I’m not apologizing for it.
Chip Kelly worked out Penn State S Adrian Amos
The Eagles are showing a lot of interest in this defensive back.
Following the Chargers has had an added layer of interest since they've recently had a somewhat parallel, yet intriguingly divergent path to the Eagles. The coaches they hired after jettisoning their (over)tenured previous coaches are a case study in contrasts: Mike McCoy paid his NFL dues through 10+ years of positional gigs before getting his shot, while Chip Kelly had never been so much as a pro ball boy before being knighted Sir Chip of Philadelphia. The rosters they inherited were pretty different, too: the Eagles had a stacked offense with no answer at QB, while the Bolts had a franchise QB (albeit one viewed as "broken") and a putrid offense. The defenses? Well, they both pretty much sucked.
For all these differences, the actual product the Eagles and Chargers have produced through two years have been surprisingly similar. In 2013 both teams were surprise playoff squads, and the Chargers even advanced a round after wiping their feet on the playoff doormat Bengals. Stop me if this sounds familiar: the Chargers narrowly missed a playoff berth in 2014 due to massive injuries at OL (five centers! three right guards!), OLB, and DB. While both teams have fared much better than the average "rebuilding" organization in their first two years, there's no question there's room for improvement.
The reason I just gave that long-winded history lesson is because it's critical to understanding the McCoy/Telesco Chargers' draft philosophy. You see, these Chargers are evidently not believers in the popular "best player available" idea. In what may seem a highly counterintuitive strategy, in both 2013 and 2014 the Bolts went into the draft with glaring holes at their biggest position of need (OT in 2013, CB in 2014), without even making an effort to acquire a cheap fallback through free agency. It just so happens that those positions were very deep in their respective years and this risky strategy was validated when they landed D.J. Fluker in 2013 and Jason Verrett in 2014. While Fluker and Verrett have not been slam-dunks thus far (Fluker has struggled with consistency and Verrett was outstanding until suffering a season-ending injury), they have had spans of great play and look to be integral to the team's future. If I had to summarize the Chargers' recent roster-building philosophy, it would be "don't be afraid to build through free agency and don't be afraid to pencil a rookie in as a starter before the draft".
If we make the reasonable assumption the Chargers will use similar draft tactics in 2015 as they've done the previous two years (no, Mike McCoy didn't overthrow GM Telesco in January and relegate him to the facility basement), it stands to follow we can use their free agency moves as "breadcrumbs" leading to the position they're going after in the first round. So what moves have the Chargers made? They've fortified their OL by resigning the surprisingly effective King Dunlap and bringing in big-ticket FA Orlando Franklin. They made prudent investments at WR with Jacoby Jones and Stevie Johnson. They re-upped killer FA signing Brandon Flowers' contract, and brought in a couple other DBs to replace Marcus Gilchrist. So where's the glaring hole? Unsurprisingly, it's at one of the deepest positions in this draft-outside linebacker.
Now if you're one of the fellow 300 or so people who follow the Chargers, you may be saying "What the hell, SCK58? The Chargers have two solid young OLBs in Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu. Why would they use a first round pick on another?" The answer, my friends, is health. Chargers OLBs/dinosaurs Jarret Johnson (33) and Dwight Freeney (35) played over 300 snaps more than Ingram (25) and Attaochu (22) in 2014. The Bolts just exercised Ingram's fifth-year option so they obviously want him to be in the plans going forward, but it would be foolish to assume he and Attaochu will stay healthy
without mystical health smoothies.
So now that we've established which position the pick will be, the natural question is which one should the Chargers take? No suspense-the newest Bolt (in this mock) is Alvin "Bud" Dupree, OLB/DE, Kentucky.
Once the Bolts decided to draft OLB and Gregory came off the board, Dupree is sort of a no-brainer pick. He's really got it all: great measureables, proven production in the crucible of the SEC, good tape, and a squeaky-clean character. I'll go over these one-by-one:
Check out that height, weight, broad jump, vertical, and 40. Dupree is a freakish athlete with ideal size for his position. I know I've harped on the importance of the 3-cone drill in the past and Dupree's is pretty poor, but if you'll notice his top 2 pro comparisons are Jamie Collins and Connor Barwin, 2 of the best coverage linebackers in the league. Sometimes you just have to look past the workouts (especially since Dupree interestingly didn't train specifically for the combine drills) and trust the tape, and when you do for Dupree it's pretty clear he's got no issues bending around the edge and fluidly dropping into coverage.
Bud stayed at Kentucky for all 4 years so he's got a nice body of work to judge him on. He posted solid, if not spectacular numbers, with 6 or more sacks his last 3 years. His tackle numbers prove he's not a Jason Babin-type player, with around 30 solo tackles and 10 TFL his last 3 years. Keep in mind playing in the SEC and being UK's marquee pass rusher means he was frequently matched against the likes of La'el Collins and Cedric Ogbuehi.
I'm going to heavily rely on this great article by Kyle Posey of Bolts from the Blue, since he did such a great job of breaking down Dupree's game.
See that blue blur at the top of the screen? That's Bud exploding out of his stance before anybody else on the entire field but the center has moved. It's important to note this isn't Dupree anticipating the snap count and risking an offsides penalty-he's just that goddamn fast. That, my friends, is 98th percentile explosion in action.
What does this look like in action? Again, take it away Kyle:
Any offensive tackle without top-10 agility is liable to be posterized by Dupree just by virtue of sheer speed rush. While he's learning the finer points of the game, he can still be productive just by moving him around the formation to match him up with slow-footed linemen.
If I had to point out a general weakness to Alvin's game it would be rawness. When watching tape of him it seemed like he would often be without an answer if the tackle could get into his set and meet Dupree at the top of his arc. He would just sort of run into him and be either rode out of the play or stonewalled. However, there's reason for optimism, as shown in the clip below:
While Dupree definitely needs to develop an array of moves to utilize (he barely ever tries to swim or rip by OL), he's already shown the ability to adjust his strategy if his preferred method doesn't work. He can be coached up to be more unpredictable, which combined with his physical tools will allow him to win against elite NFL OTs.
If you want to watch one roll of tape that will give you a flavor for Dupree's game, I think this one against Miss State is good:
Notice they play him up and down the line, both inside and outside, standing and in the 3-point. He's constantly disrupting plays and would have had even more TFLs and sacks if not for a couple of well-timed holds. He doesn't drop into coverage in this game but you can see he moves fluidly in space when he's pursuing the QB or RB from the backside/downfield. His downsides are also on display: he gets washed out of running plays when the OL gets his hands inside his pads and he doesn't keep his eyes on the ball enough, resulting in a couple situations where he could have blown up the play had he been looking for the QB/RB. I stress that these are all coachable flaws.
As I said, squeaky clean. Team captain his last year, and a quarterfinalist for the LOTT Trophy, given to outstanding student-athletes. Never in any sort of trouble. Honestly, if he happened to fall to 20 I wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles took him.
The Chargers have a need at OLB due to injury-prone starters, and Bud Dupree is far and away the best on the board for them there. He's got versatility, proven production in a tough conference, top-tier physical tools, and good character. The Bolts spent a lot of resources addressing their OL and secondary in free agency, gambling a premiere pass rusher would fall to them because it's a deep edge rusher draft, and Dupree validates their strategy.
Thanks for reading!
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