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The Buccaneers focused on fixing their run defense

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Kendell Beckwith is the latest proof of that.

LSU v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Kendall Beckwith

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 243 lbs

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded up for the last pick in the third round, 107th overall, for linebacker Kendell Beckwith. To add some context to the 107th pick, without compensatory picks, the 107th pick would be the 11th pick in the fourth round. Some fans do not understand why they would trade up for a player who has an ACL injury, and will probably only play two downs out of three on defense, if he even starts. Maybe I can help.

Starter and Contingency

At linebacker, the Bucs are thin. Beckwith would be the tallest and heaviest linebacler on the roster. The other LBs are at most 6’1” and 236 lbs.

At linebacker, we have three starting positions with only four players of note in Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Devante Bond and Adarius Glanton. That means the Bucs are lacking depth at the linebacker position.

The team lost Daryl Smith. He was the starting SAM and contingency plan at MLB. There is no competition to SLB with Bond. Beckwith adds that competition, as well as being an understudy at MLB - which is the role Daryl Smith played.

Here’s what Lance Zierlein wrote on Beckwith at NFL.com:

Productive full-time starter over last two and a half seasons on talented LSU defenses. Has the size and spirit to play for teams expecting physicality from their inside linebacker, but his game comes with some athletic and coverage limitations. Before his injury, he could have come off the board on Day 2, but may see his stock fall into the third day now. He has starter's ability when healthy.

Consistency in thought: Stopping the Run

The Bucs were having trouble stopping the run against quality run-blocking teams. Football Outsiders ranked the Bucs’ rush defense 24th overall. The total defensive rank was 12th overall and defensive passing was 6th overall. Let us see what the Bucs have done so far in respect to stopping the run this past off-season.

  • Re-signed DT Sealver Siliga, a big run-stuffing nose tackle.
  • Re-signed DE William Gholston, more known for his TFL's than sack - the Bucs' best run stopper.
  • Signed FA Chris Baker, can sack and stop the run.
  • Drafted DT Stevie Tu'ikolavatu, a big DT who's best attribute is stopping the run. A two-down guy.
  • Drafted LB Kendall Beckwith, a LB known for stopping the run. A two-down guy with special teams capabilities.

Conclusion

A couple of years ago many fans were surprised to see LB Kwon Alexander drafted in the fourth round. In free agency, which occurs before the draft, the Bucs had added Bruce Carter to play MLB under then head coach Lovie Smith. The Bucs already had Lavonte David and Danny Lansanah on the roster. Alexander was seen as a depth player for WLB. Lo and behold, Alexander usurps the starting position from Carter at MLB.

With the loss of Daryl Smith, DC Mike Smith lost a veteran tackling machine from his defense. Beckwith plays into what Mike Smith likes in his defense. Beckwith provides starting competition with Bond. Beckwith provides versatility with the capacity to play inside, which is what he did in college. Beckwith can help stop the run.

If DC Mike Smith’s defense is able to force a third-and-long against opposing offenses, then Beckwith and Big Stevie will not be on the field. It implies we have our speed rushers on the line and our coverage guys in to prevent a first down from throwing the ball. This means that the two downs worked to perfection and is a win for the defense to compel the opposing offense to throw the ball for a first down. Throwing into a 6th ranked pass defense is exactly what DC Mike Smith wants.

In retrospect, Beckwith was a sneaky good grab and we took a chance on a player dropping due to injury, not talent.