The biggest key for Tampa Bay’s success in 2018 is the defense. The offense has already proved more than capable with Jameis Winston at the helm. If the defense can even rise to a mid-tier unit, then this should be a fun season.
But unfortunately, things don’t always work out as planned in the NFL. Such is the case with Bucs’ strongside starting linebacker Kendell Beckwith.
Beckwith had an excellent rookie season starting for the second level of the defense. The 107th overall pick played all over the field after injuries to Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David, resulting in the second-most tackles in the league amongst rookies.
Not only did he play in the middle while Alexander was hurt, but he also called plays at one point and was a stand-up edge rusher on passing downs after David and Alexander returned from their injuries.
He tied Alexander for the team lead in tackles-for-loss with seven. His 14 tackles in the New England game were the most for a Bucs rookie in a game since David matched the same number back in 2012.
In other words, Beckwith had a damn good rookie season.
The offseason has been different than expected, however, after a car wreck back in mid-April left him with a fractured ankle that required surgery the same day.
The last update on him was given back on May 5th by Jenna Laine of ESPN. He has been rehabbing at the team facility, but his timetable for return is still unclear.
To get an idea of how long Beckwith could be out, one need not look any further past the infamous Odell Beckham, Jr. of the New York Giants. He fractured his ankle during the first week of October and missed the rest of the season.
That would put Beckwith on a 3-4 month timetable before he could even return. Even then, it’s no guarantee he would be full ready to go, either. The Bucs may have to ease him back in.
So if Beckwith does miss the first couple of weeks, what does that mean for Tampa’s defense? It doesn’t bode well for them at all considering there will be a lot of new pieces trying to fit together and when you add the fact that the Bucs play the Saints and Eagles in the first two weeks - Beckwith’s potential absence may prove more worrisome than initially thought.
There is decent depth with Adarius Taylor (Glanton) and Devante Bond, but having someone who played 80% of the defensive snaps with effectiveness like Beckwith is always tough to replace.
Both Bond and Taylor have combined for 71 career tackles and one sack in six combined seasons. Beckwith had 73 tackles and one sack in 2017 alone.
Get well soon, Kendell. You will be sorely needed in 2018.