Ever heard of Bud Dupree? He’s a senior pass rusher and do-everything defensive player at Kentucky. Dupree has been steadily rising on seemingly everyone’s mock draft board for the past few months and will likely be a top 10 pick in next week’s NFL Draft. In fact, some analysts have him going sixth or seventh overall.
Why has he been rising, you ask? Two reasons: skill and character.
We’ll start with character.
“He’s just an unbelievable person,” Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “He’s a guy that we’re very proud of because he’s really done everything right. He does things right off the field. He’s going to graduate here this May and works extremely hard. But on the field, he’s just very, very gifted. But the biggest thing is, he’s very versatile.”
Indeed, as a senior, the 6-4, 269-pound Dupree had 7.5 sacks, a pick-six and was a safe bet for at least five tackles in almost every game. He recorded 10 tackles against Mississippi State and 15 against Tennessee.
“He’s a guy that, when we first got here – we were running a 4-3 defense – he could put his hand down and be a great defensive end,” Stoops said. “And then the last year-and-a-half or so, we’ve transitioned into a 3-4 and he’s a guy that can stand up and play outside backer and has great size and versatility. So we’re very proud of Bud.”
Kentucky started 5-1 last year – with the only loss coming at Florida in triple overtime – before losing six straight to end the season. Still, Dupree was a leader and playmaker from start to finish, which is another thing NFL scouts love.
“It makes it really easy,” Stoops said. “As you know, if they’re going to invest that kind of money in a first-round draft pick, they got to do their homework. With Bud, it’s very easy. There’s no skeletons in the closet with him. He really truly is an unbelievable person. Great work ethic, great character, great leader. He’s the whole package, and again, he’s going to do very well at the next level. Some team is going to benefit from just having him and having that character in the locker room. It’s very important. We all know you got to have great athletic ability, but you also have to have good people at any level. And so he’s going to make somebody better.”
It would have been interesting to see what Dupree’s numbers would have looked like last year if he were only a pass-rush specialist. That’s what many defensive ends are in college, but Dupree was simply too versatile to only do one thing.
“If we would’ve just rushed him all the time, his sack total would be much higher,” Stoops said. “But he was in coverage and showed his versatility in pass drops and certain things. So again, if we would’ve just got him after the quarterback, his numbers would be way higher. But he’s very versatile and very explosive when he wants to rush.”