PITTSBURGH -- General Manager Kevin Colbert spoke the other day about the deep outside linebacker crop and how several of them are impact players.
Colbert and the Pittsburgh Steelers believe they grabbed one of those impact players in the first round Thursday night when they drafted Alvin "Bud" Dupree, a 6-4, 269-pound defensive end/outside linebacker from the University of Kentucky.
"This is a gift for us," said a beaming Colbert.
Dupree was one of the standouts at the Combine where he ran a 4.56 40 and had a vertical jump of 42 inches. He was called a top-10 athlete by most draft experts because, as Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said, "He's really a unique animal."
Both Tomlin and Colbert cited Dupree's versatility at Kentucky, where he moved into the starting lineup late in his freshman season. He then started the next three years and recorded 23.5 career sacks, 7.5 last season.
Dupree has fluid hips and can cover, and at 269 pounds can hold the point in the run game, and should be able to help the Steelers this season as an end in their nickel front.
Tomlin said that Dupree will line up this spring on the left -- or strong -- side, where they hope to groom him to one day start opposite 2013 first-round pick Jarvis Jones. Arthur Moats is currently the starter on the Steelers' left side, but perhaps not for long if Dupree lives up to his physical potential.
"Very athletic, very strong, played in a defense similar to ours," said Colbert. "He stood up. Very strong against the run. He's certainly a good pass-rusher, can mix power and speed. And he can cover. So it's real exciting that he was able to be there for us at 22. Quite honestly that was something we didn't expect."
"I think versatility is something that should be highlighted," said Tomlin. "He's done a lot for that defense over the course of the last four years. He's been an edge rusher. He's played in space. He's played stack linebacker. Just a very versatile and smart athlete. We had an opportunity to take him to dinner the night before his pro day. Good conversation with him. You could characterize him as a football junkie, a football historian, and obviously that's attractive as well. We're excited about having him."
Following is a sampling of what some of the media scouts had to say about Dupree:
* "I'm not sure he's all there instinctually," one NFL scout told Nolan Nawrocki. "But he's too big and too fast and too strong and productive to last very long in the draft."
* "Dupree has the explosiveness, power, length and fundamentals to be a strong contributor and difference maker on all three downs," wrote Kyle Crabbs, who had Dupree ranked the No. 1 edge player for NDT Scouting. "Special combination of size/explosiveness; a future impact player."
* "Dupree has a natural feel for the rush lanes," wrote Scout.com's Dave-Te' Thomas. "He has the hip flexibility to turn quickly and the knee bend to redirect. He shows good body control and a relentless motor in backside pursuit and consistently pressures the pocket. He does not have the bulk to push the blocker into the quarterback, but has a great forward burst of speed."
Dupree writes the same word on his wrist tape before every football practice: Savage.
“We’ve got to play with that mentality,” Dupree has said. “A savage will do anything to get what they want.”
It all left Colbert smiling as it he were in a dream.
"It was a very easy selection," Colbert said.