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2015 NFL Draft Grades: grading the Kwon Alexander pick

The Bucs opened the final day of the draft with the first defensive pick of the Lovie-Light era with LSU outside linebacker Kwon Alexander - but was it a good pick?

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers have drafted their first defensive player since 2013 with the selection of linebacker Kwon Alexander in the fourth round, a player who the team liked enough to give up the first pick in the seventh round to the Raiders to draft him.

While DE is the one remaining glaring need for the Bucs, at this point in the draft teams are much better off looking for value, and Alexander looks like he can be a contributor early on for the team. Alexander started 21 games for LSU over the past two seasons, including every game in 2014 when he led his team with 90 tackles. Scouting reports suggest that Alexander is someone who is unafraid to attack the line of scrimmage, unafraid to engage lead blockers while darting towards the ball carrier. Scouting reports also suggest that he's solid in pass coverage, though he has yet to record an interception, and had just one pass break up last season. As a blitzer, Alexander notched up 1.5 sacks last season, though it's an area that Alexander reportedly improved on throughout his college career.

Alexander's biggest fault appears to be over-aggressiveness in the run game, biting hard on his first read which has led to him at times ignoring his assigned run fit and allowing for big plays on cutbacks. This has led some scouts to question his ability to diagnose the flow of the play in a whole-field context, which showed up particularly on counters and traps. The other knock on him is size, particularly weight - at 227 lbs, Alexander is the lightest linebacker to be drafted so far in 2015.

However, play recognition is something that can be coached, even if it means that Alexander may not contribute on defense immediately (though he's likely to become a contributor on every phase of special teams), and the Bucs have never shied away from lighter linebackers (interestingly enough, NFL.com's comparison to a current player for Alexander is Dekoda Watson).

Alexander will likely challenge Danny Lansanah for the strongside linebacker spot, though he may not beat Lansanah out in his first campaign with the team. Nonetheless, he should be able to have a role in a rotation on defense, has the potential to contribute to the pass-rush as a blitzer, and should be a mainstay on fourth down.

Draft grade: B