The Tampa Bay buccaneers are in serious need of some major changes this offseason. After going 5-11 last season the Bucs are currently in possession of the 5th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. The Buccaneers have many holes to fil on both sides of the ball and if the Arizona Cardinals decide to pick Kyler Murray at 1st overall it should allow an all-star prospect to fall to pick number five. The Bucs defense ranked 25th overall on opponent rushing yards allowing on average 123.9 rushing yards per game. Against the pass the Bucs ranked 26th with an average of 259 opponent passing yards per game. After looking through the stats it becomes obvious that the Bucs need to build up their defense to become completive for the upcoming season. One of the ways other teams would fix a crippled defense is by picking up key players in free agency, but that is not an option for the Bucs due to their limited cap room at about two million – the lowest in the league! This leaves only one option for the Bucs to attempt to build a semblance of a completive defense- The Draft.
In my opinion there is only one player that will answer both the Buccaneer’s needs of improvement in pass and run defense. For me the only player that would vastly improve both aspects of the defense is LSU linebacker Devin White. White will be an excellent replacement for Kwon Alexander, who recently departed the Bucs to join the San Francisco Forty-Niners. The young linebacker will also be a good piece for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles new 3-4 scheme. If the decision to favor a 3-4 scheme is final then I see Devin White as the only player in the draft with the best impact on the overall Buccaneers Defense.
To put it simply, Devin White is an athlete. At a height of six feet and weighing 237 pounds, White was able to run a blazing 4.42 in the forty yard dash at the NFL combine. White’s impressive speed put him in the top 25 of all 2019 combine participants and 1st among all linebackers. His forty time is even faster than who many consider to be the gold standard of interior linebackers, Luke Kuechly, who ran a 4.58 during his combine. White’s elite speed will allow him to truly cover sideline to sideline against the run. During the passing game White’s quick feet will let him cover pass catching speed backs and receiving tight ends. The LSU athlete was able to also perform 22 reps on the Bench press. His bench proved how explosive and powerful he can be. This is further exemplified in tape where we can see White shed blocks with ease.
Devin White has some issues that must be addressed before the Buccaneers choose to draft him. The main issue is that white needs to work on his tackling technique. In the games we can see white has the quickness to create big collisions and force fumbles, but in the same games we can see him take bad angles and allow what should have been a 3 yard gain become a 13 yard gain. I can give him some slack for this because when he was being recruited he was a prospect at running back not linebacker. He made the switch early on into his college career so it does make sense that he will not be an expert at tackling technique and pursuit angles quite yet. I strongly believe as he gains more experience that his tackling ability will be on par with other linebackers in the league. Another issue is white reading too much in to the run game. White has a tendency to try to guess where the running back is going and will leave his zone to fill the hole he thinks is about to form. The only problem with this is that when he deserts the coverage to make a play it leaves a hole where he was supposed to be which many running backs have recognized and used to their advantage. I will admit that this could potentially be a big problem and could be a looming issue to the team that drafts him, butI believe that a good coaching staff will be able to fix this problem by coaching White to be more patient and let the play develop before he attempts to make a play. White has some issues that could turn other teams away from drafting him, but I think these issues are minor and would be easily correctable.
Some would argue that the Bucs should pick the “Best player” available to them in the draft instead of drafting for a team’s needs. I think the best player that would still be available to the Bucs will be Huston Defensive Tackle, Ed Oliver. I’ve seen him on many mock drafts being picked number five by the Bucs. I disagree with this take and any other take that has Tampa taking a Defensive tackle in the first round of this draft. I agree that will Bucs will need to invest in a defensive tackle when Gerald McCoy’s contract expires and if Vita Vea does not pan out, but it will be a waste of a pick to grab a defensive tackle after the Bucs used last year’s pick to add Vita Vea to the roster. If the Bucs choose to implement a 3-4 scheme next year there would be no point in having 3 very good tackles when only one of them can play at a time. Another argument is that the Bucs should pick up a corner like LSU product Greedy Williams. Having an all-star corner to replace a regressing Brent Grimes will help the secondary immensely and limit the yearly slaughter of the secondary by Julio Jones. I will admit a corner will definitely help the defense, but drafting a linebacker will have more of an overall impact on the defense than a corner. Now is not the time for the Bucs to add depth to their roster, but to start trying to help their defense as a whole.
All in all, I believe Devin White to be the player in the draft to have the highest overall impact on the team defensively. He will be able to fill the void left by Kwon Alexander and will be held accountable and learn from veteran linebacker, Lavante David. I know Tampa will regret not picking up White, especially if they forego him to pick up a prospect at defensive tackle.