When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded up into the third round of the 2017 NFL draft to take Kendell Beckwith, there was a lot of skepticism. Who even is this guy? Do the Bucs really need another linebacker? Couldn’t they have filled other needs? And....wait, he may not even be ready to play this year?
Three games into the regular season, and Beckwith looks like a future star. Just ask Pro Football Focus.
It’s weird: Beckwith is nothing like the Bucs’ other linebackers. Whereas Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander smaller and speedy, Beckwith is the biggest linebacker on the roster and an inside pounder. And yet, Beckwith has stepped into a near full-time role (because of injuries to Alexander) almost seemlessly.
It’s not just the run-stuffing, where the Bucs are much better than they were last year, holding opponents to 2.9 yards per attempt so far. It’s also the pass coverage: I can’t remember Beckwith getting beaten for any big play, and PFF thinks he’s doing a great job there, too. And coverage is where he seemed to really struggle in the preseason—I didn’t think he had to speed to hang with NFL running backs and tight ends there.
But so far so good. The Bucs got yet another quality linebacker, and they may have the single best 4-3 linebacking groups in the NFL right now. How about that?