Bucky Brooks continues to rank NFL things like a person obsessed with meaninglessly ranking things. Today's edition: best tackles. Lavonte David came in fifth.
The relatively diminutive (6-foot-1, 233 pounds) Buccaneers linebacker lacks ideal size for the position, but there is no disputing his explosive power and pop as a tackler. Few defenders in the NFL can stop runners in their tracks like David, making him one of the scariest defenders to face between the hashes. His nonstop motor and exceptional pursuit quickness allow him to track down runners on outside runs, which drastically shrinks the field for the defense. Considering how quickly he attacks the line of scrimmage after post-snap diagnosis, David's presence in the middle of the field poses a huge problem for teams attempting to probe the heart of the Buccaneers' defense.
That's good praise for David, but he's ranked just fifth? That's a bit much, folks. David gets in position to make a lot more tackles than he has any right to, both because of his explosiveness and his ability to read the game. In fact, I'd say that the only linebacker who comes close to his ability in those two areas is Luke Kuechly, who's ranked number one in this list.
That's not to take away from DeAndre Levy, Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor, who are all quality tacklers in their own right. But where their tackles tend to be bigger hits and make for a nicer highlight reel, they simply don't get to the ball carrier as much as David does. That's backed up by the stats, too.
As much as I dislike tackles as a statistic, David's managed over 100 solo tackles in each of his three seasons as a starter, even when he only played 14 games last year. Wagner's never topped 89, Chancellor's best featured 80, and Levy only managed to top 100 once -- last year. In fact, David even topped Kuechly's solo tackles in his first two seasons, with Kuechly only winning out last year because he did play the full 16 games.
I guess that Lavonte David's never going to be fully appreciated as long as the Bucs are losing games, though. That's going to have to start changing pretty soon. Hopefully this year.