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Why Steelers think this Bud is for them

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PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers, determined to help a sagging defense and a diminished pass rush, believe they did just that by selecting outside linebacker Bud Dupree with the 22nd overall pick in the NFL Draft on Thursday night.

“This is a gift for us to be able to get this guy at 22,” general manager Kevin Colbert said. “We didn’t expect Bud Dupree to be there at 22. That was a very easy selection. We want good football players and Bud Dupree certainly fits that category.”

It is the third straight year that the Steelers used their first-round choice on a linebacker. They drafted outside linebacker Jarvis Jones in 2013 and inside linebacker Ryan Shazier last year. Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons was their first-round pick in 2007.

“I think it’s a great fit for me,” Dupree said. “It will be great to have all of us on the field.”

Coach Mike Tomlin said he will start Dupree out on the left side of his defense, where veteran Arthur Moats now resides. Moats signed a three-year contract to remain with the Steelers after one year as a backup. Jones and veteran James Harrison reside on the right side.

Dupree is 6 feet 4, 269 pounds and runs 4.56 in the 40. He can rush and cover and comes from the kind of defense at Kentucky — a 3-4 — that he will play in Pittsburgh.

“He’s very, very strong at the point,” Colbert said. “When you watch him work out as we did on his Pro Day, you have to keep telling yourself this guy is 6-4, 269. He can power rush, he can speed rush, he can put moves together and he can cover.”

That’s all good, but the Steelers really need to get to the quarterback more often than they have the past several years. After stringing together seasons of 51 sacks in 2008, 47 in 2009 and 48 in 2010, they slipped to 35, 37, 34 and then 33 last season, their lowest sack total since they had just 31 in 1989.

New defensive coordinator Keith Butler was promoted from linebackers coach after Dick LeBeau was forced out this year. Butler wants to step up the pressure on the quarterback.

Dupree had 23 1/2 sacks during his career at Kentucky, where he played mostly on the strong side.

“Versatility is something you can highlight,” Tomlin said of Dupree. “He’s done a lot for that defense over the course of the last four years.”

On Friday, the Steelers will be looking at their defense again, more specifically cornerback, which is the weakest position on the team.


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