It has been almost three weeks since the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft was completed. Rookie minicamps have been completed, giving us a first look at the newest NFL players. With the first round picks seeing the field for the first time, who are they expected to replace on their respective rosters?
With the 22nd overall selection, the Pittsburgh Steelers took Alvin “Bud” Dupree, an outside linebacker out of the University of Kentucky.
Most pundits––including me––predicted Dupree to come off the board before the Steelers had a chance to select him.
A three-year starter for the Wildcats, Dupree finished the 2014 season with 74 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Over the course of his four years in Lexington, he had 23.5 sacks.
At the NFL Combine, he was a top performer, blowing teams away with his athletic ability. His numbers were made even more impressive when his size (6-foot-4, 269 lbs) was taken into account.
After playing defensive end and linebacker for Kentucky, he will play outside linebacker in Pittsburgh––a key position in the team’s 3-4 defense.
Outside linebacker was a huge need for the Steelers entering the draft. Their top three players are either very old (James Harrison), best fit as a situational player (Arthur Moats) or underwhelming (Jarvis Jones, with three sacks in two seasons).
Dupree will take playing time away from these three, but the player he will replace is no longer on the Pittsburgh roster.
Jason Worilds became a free agent at the end of the 2014 season and was not expected to return, due to the price he would command on the open market. Early in free agency, he shocked the football world by announcing his retirement at the age of 27, devoting himself to his religion.
Pro Football Focus’ number 11 outside linebacker last season, he recorded 59 tackles and 7.5 sacks while playing 998 snaps. In 2013, he recorded a career-high eight sacks.
Pittsburgh wasn’t planning on retaining Worilds, but the retirement was a surprise.
As the Steelers usually do, they stayed quiet in free agency, preferring to find a replacement in the draft.
Dupree will come in and hold down one of the two outside linebacker positions for Pittsburgh from day one.