The Curious Case of Alvin Dupree


Every year in the NFL Draft, there’s a prospect that labeled “boom or bust”. Essentially — a prospect has extremely high upside (or athletic ability), but is still raw enough to not pan out at the next level. Alvin Dupree fits that “boom or bust” category. He is an elite athlete, but still has a long way in his development of football skills and acumen. Let’s take a look at his results from the NFL Combine — courtesy of

Those numbers are staggering — especially for a 270 pound edge player. If the casual fan looked at those numbers without watching the tape, they would suggest Dupree to be a top five selection. However, the tape is what makes this evaluation so perplexing.

Dupree ran a 4.56 at almost 270 pounds. That is absolutely astounding.

While Dupree’s athleticism is elite, his technique has a long way to go before he’ll be ready to consistently start and be effective at the NFL level. When you watch Dupree on film he’ll have a few “wow” plays — but a lot of head-scratching plays.

Let’s run through three plays that make Dupree such an interesting evaluation.

One thing about Dupree that gives me hope about his future NFL success is that he does everything right up until the point of attack. On this play he shows his patience — he doesn’t run upfield when the left tackle takes his zone steps towards the 4i technique.  He shifts down the line of scrimmage, a great start to the play.

The trouble comes when he sees the pulling guard. In an ideal world, Dupree would initiate what is known as a “spill” technique. That means he would recognize the pulling guard, flip his hips so he’s parallel to the line of scrimmage, and rip underneath the guard to stop the running back at the line of scrimmage.

Here’s an example of what that’s supposed to look like from Shane Ray — not the greatest example because he doesn’t execute it completely, but you get the gist of what it’s supposed to look like.

One area of Dupree’s game that he hasn’t developed yet is his hand usage. He tries to win every rep with pure athleticism. When you’re as good of an athlete as Dupree is, you’re going have some success without refined technique. However, if he’s going to reach his full NFL potential (and he can be a dominant pass rusher) Dupree is going to need a lot of coaching.

Here’s an example of Dupree displaying poor hand usage, but still having an OK rep due to his size and strength.

The first thing you’ll notice is that Dupree is by far the last one off the snap. He can still make a solid rep out of the play if he explodes off the line of scrimmage (which his athletic testing shows he is perfectly capable of doing) and engages the tackle with his hands. When he feels the pressure of the double team from the tight end, he should thrust his hips into the tight end and either rip or swim through the seam he’ll have created for himself.

He doesn’t do any of that.

Dupree catches the blocks, which on the NFL level will find him in the laps of the safeties. However on the college level, Dupree is such a rare physical specimen that he can hold his ground with poor technique.

Here’s one more play that shows off Dupree’s athleticism, but lack of refinement.

You’ll notice on this play Dupree has a fantastic burst off the snap. This makes sense as it’s 3rd and 10 and South Carolina is in shotgun formation backed up against their own goal line. They’re going to pass the ball.

When comparing this get off with the one in the previous clip it tells me one thing: Dupree really doesn’t know what he’s doing on the football field. He’s thinking too much and has a long way to go in terms of developing his football acumen.

When it’s obvious what the offense is going to (i.e. shotgun formation on 3rd and 10 early in the second quarter) Dupree flashes supreme talent. However, when the play call isn’t so obvious (1st and 10 near midfield in the first quarter vs Missouri) and he needs to read and react to the offensive lineman, he struggles.

It’s worrisome that as a senior he still struggled with his diagnosis of what the offensive line is trying to do. Read and react drills are an essential part of defensive line practice regimen — he shouldn’t be struggling with these as much as he does. However, it is worth noting that Dupree came to Kentucky as a tight end before making the switch to defensive end so the fact that he is raw makes a little sense.

Dupree has otherworldly potential and elite athleticism, but can you bank on his development as a football player in the NFL?

That’s for teams to decide in April’s draft.

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