The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted their first defensive players in two years tonight, taking Kwon Alexander with the 25th pick of the fourth round of the 2015 NFL draft. So what does that mean for the Bucs, and how are they likely to use him?
Alexander played outside linebacker at LSU, both on the strong and the weak side, which is where he's likely to fit for the Buccaneers. If he does well in training camp, he could take Danny Lansanah's starting job at strongside linebacker, but that seems unlikely: rookies rarely start under Lovie Smith, because they have to learn to understand the defense and adjust to the NFL speed. That's especially a problem in coverage, which is a massive part of what linebackers are asked to do these days.
Like all the other Bucs linebackers, Alexander isn't very good at shedding blocks -- he's a flow-to-the-ball linebacker who works with speed. That's how the team's scheme is designed, of course. And with his excellent combine performance, he should fit right in this linebacking corps.
Alexander's more likely to be a long-term prospect who could eventually transition to a starting spot. He's just 20 years old, so he has plenty of time to develop into a starter/contributor on defense. With a little bit of luck he could even turn into a middle linebacker. For now, though, he's likely to be a special teams ace. Linebackers who run 4.55-second 40-yard dashes are almost always core special teamers -- see, for instance, Dekoda Watson.
Lansanah doesn't quite think he'll be challenged by Alexander, though.
My tweet had nothing to do with the draft pick not even watching it.....wow social media i tell ya!!!— danny lansanah (@dannylan51) May 2, 2015