At the NFL Combine, Kentucky’s Alvin “Bud” Dupree ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds. His vertical jump of 42 inches was the second-best among linebackers since 2006, his broad jump of 11 feet, 6 inches was tops at his position.
Coaches and scouts were agog because Dupree stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 269 pounds.
That blend of size and athleticism has Dupree, an outside linebacker, moving up draft boards, with ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. predicting last week he’ll go in the top 16.
For the Browns, who hold the 12th and 19th picks in Thursday’s NFL Draft, there are more reasons Dupree could intrigue them.
They let outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard depart in free agency and 2013 first-round pick Barkevious Mingo hasn’t lived up to expectations. Dupree finished second on UK’s all-time career sacks list with 23˝, recording 7˝ last season despite dropping into coverage 40 percent of the time. In Dupree’s three years as a full-time starter, he also contributed 34˝ tackles for losses.
Dupree was recruited by former Kentucky coach Joker Phillips, now the Browns’ receivers coach. Phillips’ knowledge of Dupree could be especially valuable if Browns General Manager Ray Farmer is worried about job security, especially after his two first-round picks failed to produce last season.
And those who know Dupree, from his high school offensive coordinator to the Kentucky football sports information director to the Wildcats’ defensive line coach, call him one of their all-time favorites because he’s likable, well-mannered, humble and a stand-up guy.
“My teenage daughter puts him down as her best friend,” said Jeb Stewart, offensive coordinator at Wilkinson County High School in Irwinton, Ga., where Dupree played wide receiver/tight end/defensive end. “When he was going into his senior year, me and him logged a lot of miles on my truck visiting places. A lot of Saturdays after ballgames he was at my house watching film. You don’t necessarily do that for all kids, but when you’ve got one the way he is. …”
Kentucky defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh is most taken with Dupree’s versatility. Brumbaugh played defensive tackle at Auburn and coached at LSU during the Tigers’ run to the 2007 national championship. In all his years in the Southeastern Conference, Brumbaugh said he’s never seen a player with Dupree’s combination of pass rush ability and coverage skills.
“From a physical and athletic standpoint, I have never been around a guy who’s had both of the things he has and I’ve been in the SEC a long time,” said Brumbaugh, who arrived at Auburn in 1995.
Dupree thought he was going to play tight end at Kentucky, but Phillips told Dupree he might convert him to defense if that meant he could get him on the field sooner.
“I think he was a little hurt at first when he got moved to defense,” Stewart said by phone Friday. “But that quickly went away when he started having success.”
Dupree finished in the top seven in the SEC in sacks all three seasons as a starter and was named first-team all league as a senior.
Brumbaugh said Dupree will do anything his coaches ask, as evidenced by Dupree’s play on kickoff coverage early in his UK career and his willingness to give up snaps as a pure pass rusher. Dating back to high school, Dupree has also shown he can be a leader.
“We’d get done with practice and he’d make the rest of them go out and do something else, run more hills, run more sprints. He was making the quarterback stay and throw more balls,” Stewart said.
Brumbaugh’s most memorable plays of Dupree’s aren’t sacks, but how he handled massive offensive linemen.
“He hit the big guard at Florida last year, Trenton Brown, and that guy was 6-8, 355. He came up and set the edge on him,” Brumbaugh said in a recent phone interview. “I’m like, ‘Wow.’ So we cut it out and showed all the guys.
“Two years ago, Mississippi State had a big [third]-round guard [Gabe Jackson]. The guy came downhill to kick him out. He boxed him real tight and was real physical on him. You’re talking about a -pound guard. That’s the attribute I see. Most of the time pass rushers won’t be that physical.”
Farmer seems to value versatility, which Brumbaugh said Dupree would bring to the Browns.
“He’s very, very smart,” Brumbaugh said. “He’s able to see formations, he’s able to pick up things. You can tell him something and he’s going to go out right then and fix it. He understands all those little key things that sometimes takes guys rep after rep after rep to get.
“He’s a natural when you talk about an explosive guy, change of direction. He’s got a tremendous burst off the ball. His multiplicity and the things he can do from a standpoint of helping your football team is phenomenal.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.