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Cowboys 2015 Draft Targets: Kentucky DE Alvin "Bud" Dupree

Because there has been such a high correlation in recent years between the top collegians invited to Valley Ranch for pre-draft visits and who the Cowboys end up drafting, it's important to know as much as possible about these players. As a service to you, BTB offers a series of detailed scouting reports on these players, compiled from the work of top draft analysts. Today, we look at Kentucky DE Alvin "Bud" Dupree

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A three-star tight end/defensive end recruit coming out of high school as a two-way star, Alvin "Bud" Dupree wanted to play offense (he played tight end in high school), but Kentucky's defensive coaches smartly kept him on defense once he arrived in Lexington. In 2011, Dupree started the Wildcats' final three games, recording 21 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He became a full-time starter the following year, finishing with 91 tackles (12.5 for loss) and amassing 6.5 sacks. In 2013, he started all but one game as a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end, tallying 61 tackles (9.5 TFL) and 7 sacks, which earned him Second Team All-SEC honors.

Last season, Dupree expanded his defensive résumé, adding outside linebacker responsibilities, including dropping into coverage. Despite this, he finished with 74 tackles (with 12.5 for loss) and added a career-high 7.5 sacks to his resume (the 23.5 with which he finished his career was the most by any active SEC player). In the process, he garnered First Team All-SEC laurels, and was a Lott Trophy quarterfinalist.

Dupree is an explosive, powerful athlete with an NFL-ready frame. He's a "twitchy" guy who displays good range and the burst to be explosive off the edge. He also has good functional strength, although many NFL folk believe he'll need to get stronger to consistently set the edge versus pro-grade offensive tackles. In addition, coaches praise his strong work ethic and self-starting traits; he's reportedly a workout junkie who stays in tip-top shape.

That said, our friend Bud is not yet the sum of his parts; while he was certainly productive at Kentucky (he did retire as the SEC's active sack leader, after all), scouts feel that his tape doesn't measure up to his raw athleticism. That, plus the fact that he split time between defensive end and stand-up linebacker gives scouts some pause - although that hesitation is likely to be tempered one they look at his elite measurables.

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Want to scout like a boss? Let's start by looking at his measurables:

Height Weight Arms Hands 40yd 10yd Bench Vert Broad 3Cone 20ss SPARQ (%)
6' 4" 269 32⅝" 9¾" 4.56 1.60 42" 138" 146.3 (97.7)

Although we don't have a full set of measurables for him, those we do have are pretty impressive, indeed. A SPARQ score in the 97th percentile? That's awesome! And for those of you who are visually inclined, here they are in the form of a spider graph, courtesy of the folks at Mockdraftable.com:

And over at Draft Breakdown, they have seven of Dupree's games on tape. From 2014, you can see him square off against SEC rivals Missouri (1.5 sacks) Mississippi State (ten tackles and a sack), and Florida (five tackles, no QB bags). And check him out in 2013 action at Vanderbilt.

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Now that you've formed an opinion, see what our esteemed panel of scouts has to say about Dupree:

Gary Horton (ESPN.com) 6th-ranked OLB; 41st overall:

Instincts/Recognition: Works hard in tape room and transfers it to the field. Picks up on player tendencies. Has the ability to play multiple positions and shows good natural football instincts. Reads his keys and shows solid discipline from the backside. Shows good ball recognition versus the run. Has above-average awareness in zone coverage, especially for comparatively limited reps.

Take-on Skills: Has adequate strength to set the edge but it's not the strong point of his game. Flashes explosive pop at times but needs to play with more violence and with more consistency at the point of attack. Needs to continue to develop as a hand fighter and has trouble anchoring when bigger OTs get into his frame. Shows discipline with outside contain and has athleticism to disrupt the backfield. Also makes more plays in backside pursuit than most DE/OLB types do.

Range vs. Run: Very good athlete with outstanding top-end speed. Holds up well in space and shows easy change-of-direction skills. Gives consistent effort chasing in pursuit.

Tackling: Reliable overall tackler. Flashes explosive snap but lacks consistent knock-back power. Has impressive body control and ability to break down in space for his size. Still will get into trouble when he comes in too hot in outside pursuit at times. Does good job of wrapping up and driving legs through contact.

3rd Down Capabilities: Offers excellent scheme versatility because of his ability to rush the quarterback and drop into coverage. Has good get-off quickness and very quick hands to keep OTs' hands off his pads. Has excellent redirect skills and closing burst. Shows ability to dip and bend turning the edge and flashes a quick closing burst once gaining the corner. Still needs polish as a pass-rusher. Seems to lack a game plan at times. Needs to refine pass-rush moves. Also must learn to use hands better and maintain better pad level when converting speed-to-power. Is surprisingly athletic and fluid in coverage for his size. Consistently shows ability to turn and run with TEs in one-on-one situations. Has good range in zone coverage and looks comfortable in space.

Intangibles: Has outstanding personal and football character. Is involved in FCA and is a good decision-maker off the field. Takes football seriously but is a well-rounded, well-liked person with no off-the-field incidents. A self-motivator. The son of Sophia Stephens and Alvin Dupree Sr. Is a community and leadership development major.

Rob Rang (CBSSports.com) 3rd-ranked DE; 16th overall:

Strengths: Productive pass rusher whose success stems from his physical gifts and technique. Has long arms, a quick burst, the flexibility to turn the corner and an explosive burst to close when the ballcarrier is near. Varies his rush moves, lulling opponents with one speed and surprising with an occasional extra burst to generate big plays at critical moments. Locates the ball quickly and is passionate in pursuit, making some big hits when he gets there. Often asked to drop and has some instincts in coverage. Has good lateral agility to slip bigger, slower opponents and the understanding of leverage to get under their pads and to create a pile to plug-up the action. Touted as a strong leader on and off the field.

Weaknesses: Lacks functional football strength. Struggles to rip free once engaged. Relies on his agility and savvy to slip by would-be blockers. Rarely physically breaks the grasp of blockers once engaged. Rarely gets his hands up to cloud the vision of quarterbacks. Sometimes takes wide angles in pursuit, giving up extra yardage.

Compares to: Kamerion Wimbley, Tennessee Titans - Has a blend of length and burst to enjoy a long, productive career as an NFL edge rusher. To achieve his full potential and become an every-down player, he'll need to get stronger in run support.

Lance Zierlein (NFL.com) 5th ranked OLB; 26th overall:

Strengths: Freakish athlete with chiseled frame. Posted incredible 42-inch vertical leap and 4.56 40 at the combine while weighing 269 pounds. Outstanding power with ability to rag-doll tight ends at will. Should be an above average edge-setter. Good transition from playing run to rushing quarterback in play-action. Explosive closing burst. Willing thumper when he has a shot on running back. Can drop into space and play zone. Raw, but learning with huge growth potential as a player. Has strength at the point to be a physical edge-setter. Scouts give him plus grade for character.

Weaknesses: Tall but not long. Wins with athleticism over skill at this point. Some scouts believe his instincts are below average, leading to hesitation. Will get caught taking bad angles to the ball. Needs to improve hand fighting. Still raw rushing the passer. Doesn't possess a go-to pass-rush move. Appears to lack urgency in-game.

Sources Tell Us: "He's a little slow to diagnose, which causes him to get a late start on plays. I would ask him to drop into space in zone dog looks and that's about it. To me, he's a pure see 'em, get 'em 3-4 rush end." -- NFC East regional scout

NFL Comparison: Jamie Collins

Dane Brugler (NFL Draft Guide) 4th-ranked OLB:

Strengths: Flexible athlete with natural bend and low pad level...well-built, tapered physique with impressive upper and lower body bulk...twitchy first step quickness and get-off acceleration to be a difference-maker off the edge, keeping his momentum around the corner to flatten...stays balance and doesn't slow down once he gains an inch...rubber ankles and loose hips to shift his weight and change directions...appears natural on his feet with experience dropping into coverage...rangy with speed and closing burst to cover the entire field...collects himself well in space to break down with natural body control...explosive striker and plays with energy...quick thinker and rarely plays hesitant...scrapes over the top with backfield vision to stunt inside and find rush lanes...tough player to block with his agility, effort and improved hand use - doesn't give up on plays...versatile experience and the coaching staff gave him added responsibilities as a senior - two and three point stance on film at defensive end and outside linebacker...became more of a vocal leader in 2014 with impeccable work ethic and character on and off the field - his coaches go out of their way to gush about him...led the team in tackles for loss and sacks each of the last three seasons, also finishing second on the team in total tackles three straight years - finished second all-time in career sacks at Kentucky (23.5).

Weaknesses: Can be overwhelmed in the run game and doesn't show the upper body strength to slug or bully with his length...blown off the ball at times and has little hope against multiple blockers, lacking that type of power to split double-teams...unpolished hand use as a pass rusher and needs to improve his shed skills...won't consistently convert speed to power...run awareness is a work-in-progress and needs to learn that sometimes it's best to stay at home - overeager mentality...needs to consistently control himself at the contact point to finish in space, allowing himself to get wild at times in the pocket or open field...much better hitter than wrap-up tackler right now and needs to be more reliable once he makes contact - will fall off some tackle attempts when off-balance...history of nagging injuries, including missing one game as a junior (Oct. 2013) with an irritating pectoral injury - didn't lift during the pre-draft process due to left pectoral injury.

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Our panelists have quite variant opinions on Dupree; their ranking range from 16th to 41st overall. Given the fact that athleticism tends to push prospects up draft boards (as one scouting report on Dupree noted, the "difference between being good and great might be his coordinator"; a lot of coaches will see themselves as the guy who can unlock Dupree's vast potential), I'll confidently slot him in round one on my "little board," where the Cowboys hold the 27th pick.

Whether he'll ever make it to 27 is another story. Thus far, he has received interest from the Jets (6th pick), Bears (7), Falcons (8), Browns (12), Saints (13), 49ers (15), Eagles (20), Bengals (21), and Ravens (26). That's a pretty nasty gauntlet of interested teams through which Dupree will have to run to get to Dallas.

Last year, the Cowboys were forced to chase defensive ends, and had to pay a high price to get the last good one in DeMarcus Lawrence. Once again shopping for DE amidst a thin crop, the fear is that Dallas will follow the same path it trod in 2014. So, if Dupree gets to the Cowboys and is the pick at 27 - which would allow them to pick and choose from much deeper positions like RB and CB the rest of the way? Oh, yeah; Ol' Rabble would be verrry pleased to see that.

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Next up: Virginia DE Eli Harold