“Clear minds equal fast feet.” My college head coach has always preached this phrase to his defense, and it’s his key to an effective, instinctual defense that consistently places his units among the top of our conference. Don’t get confused though, Division III football has nothing to do with Alvin Dupree, but the quote certainly does.
Alvin “Bud” Dupree stands out in a bevy of ways. To start with, he’s 6’4” and 269 pounds and has played in a pro style scheme at Kentucky. He can put his hand in the ground and play 4-3 Defensive End, or stand up and play a 3-4 EDGE position. He can provide good run support, he has success rushing the passer, and other than Vic Beasley, had the most impressive combine of any of the participants in Indianapolis.
Shout out to Mockdraftable.com for this data, Mockdraftable has a large database that compares and rates players compared to previous years combine numbers at their position through their testing results. Dupree is in the 100th percentile in the Broad Jump at 138”, or 11’6”. He’s in the 99th percentile in the vertical jump at 42”. He’s in the 97th percentile for his 40 yard dash, at 4.56 seconds, .03 seconds slower than heralded runner Melvin Gordon ran this year. For context’s sake, Dupree weighs approximately fifty-five more pounds than the former Badger runner who eclipsed 2,500 yards this past season.
All of this should make Dupree a top 10 lock, right? He’s an athletic freak who fits what every NFL team wants out of a pass rusher, so what’s missing?
Don’t mistake this as a knock on Dupree, he’ll be drafted in the first round, and has as much potential as any player in this draft. But something is missing from the puzzle when watching Dupree on tape. He’s physical, and splashes, making impressive plays. And to the naked eye, he’s all over the field. He’ll be a good pro, but little things are apparent that are limiting his productivity.
First of all, he’s incredibly raw in his hand fighting technique. More so as a stand up rusher than as a traditional End, but he almost solely uses a speed rush. He has all of the physical ability to do so, but his lack of hand use is alarming, especially considering the coaching he had at Kentucky. For the past two seasons, he’s been coached by D.J. Eliot, former architect of the scheme currently utilized by Florida State. Dupree could be much more effective translating his speed to power with proper hand usage, and could then use his speed rush as a threat, rather than a crutch. Also, Dupree has fairly short arms for the position, so the better he can utilize his hands, the better he can gain extension from the blocker.
Another thing that Dupree struggles with, that he’ll need to improve, is his ability to “bend” in his pass rush. This refers to the flexibility in his hips needed to “run the arc”, or successfully run around the Offensive Tackle to the Quarterback without being run around passed the Quarterback by the blocker. It’s somewhat rare that someone as athletically impressive as Dupree struggles with this, but it hasn’t kept him from being effective, and once learned, can be another move in his pass rushing arsenal.
Lastly, to tie in my quote from the top of this article, I think that the biggest thing you notice from time to time while watching Dupree on film, can be his hesitance. It’s not due to a lack of talent. In my personal opinion, I think that it’s because he’s playing too many roles for the Kentucky defense. The role he plays is much like Terrell Suggs plays for the Baltimore Ravens, except Dupree covers pass catchers a bit more, and has ten years less experience. In Kentucky’s complex, pro style scheme, as the most talented player they featured, Dupree was asked to line up in both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts, while playing coverage, playing the run, as well as the rushing the passer. This lead to his tendency to sometimes watch and diagnose plays, rather than just react and make plays. Some are questioning his Football IQ because of this, however I don’t. I actually think it speaks to his acumen for the game that he was able to play as well as he did in his multiple roles.
That being said, in the NFL, Dupree will make his money rushing the passer, his best asset. “Clear minds equal fast feet” will be very beneficial for Dupree, who can excel while only focusing on his pass rush, rather than coverage among other things. Dupree will be drafted in the first round, but the million dollar question, is where? He’s been mocked everywhere from #3 to the Jaguars, all the way down to #26 to the Ravens. He’ll eventually return to his familiar roles as more than just a rusher later in his career, but Dupree’s upside athletically is getting after the Quarterback, and really the only thing holding him back from doing that, is clearing his mind, by simplifying his role.