When the Pittsburgh Steelers made edge rusher Bud Dupree their first round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft this past spring, it could be said that the writing was on the wall for fellow outside linebacker Arthur Moats, who was viewed as the incumbent starter on the left side, filling the vacated shoes of Jason Worilds. In some ways, it could’ve been viewed as a slight to Moats, as first rounders aren’t drafted to sit the bench for very long. After all, what established NFL veteran wants to watch his replacement’s name flicker across the screen on draft day, then be looked upon as a veteran presence to help mentor them?
In OTA’s, Dupree was inserted on the left side, behind Moats. This type of situation could brew some hostility and ill-will but not according to Moats.
“It’s one of those things, we’re all about getting more talent, making the team better,” Moats said, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I feel if me and him are over there competing with each other, that’s only going to make the team that much better. Whichever one comes off the bench, that will be a starter-capable player, starter-level talent to make us that much better.”
This is exactly the attitude the front office wants to hear from Moats, who actually shot down an offer from the Atlanta Falcons this past offseason to re-sign with Pittsburgh. It’s not as if Moats is a slouch either, and he could turn into one of those classic “free agent gems” we’re always referring to by GM Kevin Colbert. He had 4 sacks last season in more-or-less a situational type of role and let’s not forget, he was a very productive pass rusher coming out of James Madison University.
Starting rookies at the OLB spot isn’t a theme of this team and the team actually had a similar situation in place several years ago whenever they had an established veteran starting in Clark Haggans, with rookie LaMarr Woodley coming in on third downs. Their plan with Dupree appears eerily similar, as they didn’t put such a high tag on drafting him to be the waterboy. However, much like the situation on the right side with 2013 first rounder Jarvis Jones and James Harrison, the competition appears to be stiff and the veterans aren’t laying down for anybody with their “come take my job from me” attitudes.
“I feel like the job’s mine until I’m told otherwise,” Moats said, according to Bouchette. “It’s all about what you put on tape. If you put bad stuff on tape, they’ll get you out of there.”
Now by no means is this a Brett Favre/Aaron Rodgers-type of relationship between the two, as Moats is actually a fan of the rookie. He said unlike some rookies who come into camp with a cocky persona and big head, Dupree actually is a student of the game, always asking questions and looking for ways to improve.
Improve is vital for the Steelers’ defense if the team has deep playoff aspirations. At a position filled with pedigree from over the year’s, Moats certainly isn’t second guessing his decision to re-sign here.
“We knew this was where we wanted to be,” Moats said, according to Bouchette. “I love my teammates, love my coaching staff and this scheme fits me.”