It can be pretty hard to evaluate 4-3 linebacker, mostly because they’re flying around and making tackles but not generally producing many standout plays.
That’s not true for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have a pair of linebackers who have a pair of 4-3 linebackers who produce splash play after splash play, and jump off the screen: Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander. The former’s quality is obvious, the latter’s a little more disputed — especially when Pro Football Focus hated him last season, for whatever that is worth.
Seems the football graders have come around on Alexander’s play, though, and named him the most-improved second-year linebacker in their rather opaque grading system.
I will say that Kwon Alexander’s 2015 performance has generally been slightly overrated. He was fast and that allowed him to get to many, many tackles — but he also missed a few too many, and for some reason kept making the same, easy mistake in pass coverage.
Whether Alexander’s splash plays made up for his deficiencies as a rookie is in the eye of the beholder. What’s not in the eye of the beholder is his much improved play this season: he cut out most of the missed tackles, was much more reliable and consistent in coverage, and kept up the splash plays.
Along with David, Alexander is the core of the team’s linebacking core and the very center (literally) of their defense. It’s one area they don’t need to worry about for the foreseeable future, which is pretty refreshing.