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Bud Dupree's Pittsburgh Steelers Outlook (Updated)

Dupree's transition from blue & white standout to black & gold stalwart should be seamless.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

When Bud Dupree was selected 22nd by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft, I was jubilant.  Both for myself, as a UK football and Steelers fan, and for Bud, who was drafted into a stable organization that is presently built to win and sports a staff, culture, and defensive scheme that will provide Dupree with an ability to develop into an elite NFL player and one day add a Super Bowl ring (or two) to his hand.

For the benefit of Dupree fans, below is a cursory glance at who will be coaching him and where he fits into the defensive scheme and the depth chart in the Steel City.

Steelers Coaching Staff

Mike Tomlin, the Steelers' head coach, possesses a strong defensive background.  Going back to 1998, he coached defensive backs at various college and pro stops, and spent one year (2006) as defensive coordinator in Minnesota before being selected by the Rooney family in 2007 to succeed former head coach Bill Cowher.

Rookie defensive coordinator Keith Butler previously studied under former defensive coordinator (and current NFL Hall of Famer) Dick LeBeau as linebackers coach since 2003.  Butler was Pro Football Weekly's LB Coach of the Year in 2008 and has been repeatedly praised for developing LBs such as Lawrence Timmons, Larry Foote, and LaMarr Woodley, as well as James Harrison, who went from undrafted practice squad fodder to 2008 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.  Dupree's NFL.com Draft Profile finishes with "[the d]ifference between being good and great might be his coordinator."  If that's true, Dupree is poised to be great.

Dupree's position coach is Joey Porter, the former four-time All-Pro Steeler OLB.  Porter was promoted this past offseason from a defensive assistant position when Butler took over the defensive coordinator spot.  Porter will provide Dupree with invaluable instruction based on recent practical experience and success.

Pittsburgh's Defensive Scheme

Although starting DE Cam Heyward has noted that Butler will introduce new "wrinkles" into the defense, and he has described his scheme as "whatever it takes to win," the understanding has been that Butler's promotion will provide defensive continuity that matches the team's current personnel.

As such, you can definitely expect to see Dupree coming from the OLB spot in a 3-4 front (three down linemen and four linebackers) in the black and gold.  The Steelers have been coming out of the 3-4 look on defense since the 1980s.  Dupree's combination of athleticism, strength, and speed will serve him well in a 3-4, as there is obviously one fewer lineman up front in the formation to occupy the attentions of blocking opponents.  For comparison's sake, in D.J. Eliot's defense at UK, Dupree was a DE/OLB hybrid edge rusher in a 4-3 scheme.

A 3-4 scheme requires versatile OLBs because it requires them to do a variety of different things -- spy, blitz, drop into coverage, etc.  OLBs in the Steelers' 3-4 traditionally position themselves on or close to the line of scrimmage.  The primary pass rushing OLB in a 3-4, and the spot that Dupree figures to be frequently featured in, is often referred to as the "jack" OLB.  Dupree can also play the "sam" role (strong side) on the outside, which focuses more on defending the run or dropping back into pass coverage.  Luckily, Dupree rushed, played the run, and dropped back into coverage often at UK, so none of these responsibilities should be novel to him.

As for the aforementioned "wrinkles," Butler, players, and the front office have kept quiet on what these might be, and for good strategic reason.  However, Butler indicated last week that opposing offenses will see a lot more cover 2 than they had previously under LeBeau from the Steelers.  Though no Steeler-affiliated party will admit it, this is likely because of the team's glaring weakness in the secondary.  The cover 2 is a widely-used zone defense, which would primarily require Dupree to oversee a certain part of the field with an eye toward the pass.

We should not see anything creative schematically in the preseason from Butler's unit, and his scheme likely won't be fully realized for breakdown until midway through the season.  Still, with what we do know, an OLB the likes of Dupree figures to play a prominent role in Butler's defense based on what he learned from his predecessor, LeBeau, and his familiarity with the LB position.

Pittsburgh's Depth Chart at OLB

It appears that there is an open competition at both OLB spots, so Dupree will be given every chance to start when the Steelers kick off the 2015 regular season on national television (NBC) on September 10 in New England.  However, many project (which may be more accurately characterized as "hope," given his durability issues as a pro) former Georgia standout Jarvis Jones to have a breakout training camp and decisively seize one of the OLB spots.

For the other spot, Dupree's greatest competition is the great James Harrison.  Harrison ultimately took on a full-time presence as last season closed, but he is now 37 and the team has been outspoken about reducing his on-field role during the upcoming season.  Also on the depth chart is Arthur Moats, an above-average backup who actually started a number of games last season due to injuries in front of him and some believe will claim a starting OLB spot.

Others jockeying for OLB spots on the depth chart include 2014 6th round draft choice Jordan Zumwalt (who doubles as an ILB), practice squad standout Howard Jones, and fellow rookie Anthony Chickillo.  The complexion of the competition at the position changed when the Steelers cut former CFL standout Shawn Lemon last week.  Nevertheless, if Dupree starts the season on the bench, he will be one of the primary backups for both OLBs on the depth chart.

The Steelers open the preseason in the Hall of Fame game against Minnesota on Sunday, August 9, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. EST.  I will have a breakdown of Dupree's play for publication by the middle of the following week.  It will mark the competitive beginning of what I believe will be a solid 10+ year career at OLB for Dupree, hopefully all in Pittsburgh.

In the meantime, savor this.  Apparently there is already a soundtrack to Dupree's destruction ("[t]here's a distinct sound when [he] smashes into one of the tight ends") and he's not backing down from facing the best (2014 NFL All-Pro RB Le'Veon Bell) in training camp.

Update -- Dupree finds himself backing up Arthur Moats on the left side on the Steelers' first Training Camp depth chart, which was just released today (8/4).  Jarvis Jones mans the right side.