- Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter
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For weeks, we've been tossing around the same names -- Marcus Mariota, Amari Cooper, Shane Ray, Vic Beasley, Brandon Scherff and Dante Fowler Jr. They've all been linked to the New York Jets, who own the sixth pick in the upcoming draft.
Allow me to introduce a new name to watch: Kentucky outside linebacker Alvin "Bud" Dupree.
Widely considered a mid- to late-first round pick, Dupree has been gaining momentum in recent days, with some experts saying he could crack the top 10. Pass-rushers are hard to find, and Dupree is intriguing because of his measurables -- 6-foot-4, 269 pounds and a 40-yard dash time of 4.56 seconds at the scouting combine. In four seasons at Kentucky, he finished with 23.5 sacks and 37 tackles for loss.
Dupree has the Jets' attention because, unlike Ray and Beasley, he has prototypical size for an outside linebacker in Todd Bowles' scheme. His upside is scary. The knock on him is that his instincts need work and that he's a better athlete than football player at this stage in his development. You always have to beware of workout warriors. Remember Vernon Gholston, whom the Jets chose with the sixth pick in 2008?
The Jets are doing their homework on Dupree. They met with him on campus and he's on their list of 30 pre-draft visits. Could they take him at No. 6? That might be considered a reach, but he could be an option in a trade-down scenario.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, on a media conference call Friday, was asked about Dupree. He gave a mostly positive review, saying of his size and speed, "His workout numbers are ridiculous. ... God only makes a handful of these type of guys, so you have the tools there to develop, there’s no question about it."
But McShay expressed some concerns, though.
"I think his instincts are getting better, but there are times when he’s not able to go full bore because he’s still diagnosing," he said. "But I think he has improved. Clearly, he’s a hard worker. Everyone I talk to says he works hard in the film room and transfers it -- or he’s learning to transfer it to the field."
McShay compared Dupree to New England Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins, a raw talent who blossomed into a terrific player in his second season. Of course, Collins was a second-round pick, not a high first. Big difference.
The Kentucky pass-rusher has incredible statistics, but might be a reach with the No. 6 pick in the NFL draft.