One position we haven’t talked much about this offseason is linebacker. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two clear starters at the position: Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David. Both of them are very good at what they do, and very similar: fast, undersized linebackers who make a ton of tackles, do well in coverage, and make a lot of splash plays.
They may be joined by a third in Devante Bond, who looks to be the team’s starting strongside linebacker this season. Bond was the Bucs’ sixth-round pick out of Oklahoma last year, and missed all of his rookie season due to injury. And according to Roy Cummings, he’s likely to be the team’s starter this year.
At this point it will be Devante Bond. He missed all of last year, his rookie year, with a hamstring injury but the #Bucs believe he's ready https://t.co/o19fqGs2lE— Roy Cummings (@RCummingsFRS) April 10, 2017
Bond is a little less undersized than Alexander and David, as his 6’1”, 240 lbs. frame makes him a little short at most. He does have the same speed, though, and the potential to do some work as an edge rusher or blitzer on passing downs.
Strongside linebacker is probably the best position to work in a player with almost no NFL experience. They stay on the field about 50% of the defensive snaps and do most of their work against the run, so Bond’s inexperience shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
However, the team does clearly lack depth at the position. Beyond these three starters, they have only Jeff Knox and Cameron Lynch, both former undrafted players who have virtually no NFL experience outside of special teams, though Knox did play in the CFL for a while.
It’s common for NFL teams to fill their linebacker backups with undrafted players, but this is a bit extreme. If Alexander or David suffers an injury, the Bucs will have a pretty significant problem. So expect the Bucs to address this deficiency at some point in the draft — perhaps as early as the third round, if the right player falls to them.