With training camp fast approaching, there’s an unexpected opportunity for several linebackers due to Kendell Beckwith’s broken ankle that he suffered in a car crash back in mid-April. Adarius Taylor and Devante Bond both saw some action in 2017 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with Taylor ultimately seeing more action and garnering the statistics to back it up (in on 31 tackles). The two players will presumably get first shot at filling in for Beckwith this training camp and have a real shot to make a name for themselves while Beckwith continues to recover from surgery.
Devante Bond has the harder fight of the two for reps as he was used sparingly in 2017 by the coaching staff. Bond is a true fighter, showing just that as he made the team as a 6th round pick and has worked on special teams. This past season, Bond racked up a Pro Football Focus (PFF) rating of 51.0 in limited duty which when viewed in a vacuum, was a better number than Adarius Taylor put together. Bond isn’t as athletic or instinctive as Taylor on the field and because of this, one would expect Taylor to have an early and potentially insurmountable lead when it comes to replacing Beckwith until he’s healthy.
Adarius Taylor got first crack at filling in a season ago due to injuries within the Buccaneers linebacker core and in week 4 was the top performer at the position according to PFF. Taylor recorded a 91.2 overall grade for his play against the Redskins. As a whole, the season wasn’t all that kind to Taylor who closed the year out with a cool 47.4 overall grade according to PFF. Taylor tallied a total of 22 tackles and 9 assists, a forced fumble and fumble recovery as well as a lone sack on the season.
The team will hope one of these two young linebackers can step in and hold down the position until Beckwith returns to action but make no mistake about it, neither will make the impact that Beckwith did a year ago where he filled in as the line-backing groups’s multi-tool. As our own Evan Winter wrote back in May, Beckwith’s injury could be more detrimental than expected and replacing someone who played 80% of the defensive snaps is tough to replace. Bucs Nation and fans alike are wishing for a successful and speedy recovery for Beckwith. Until then, we look forward to the battle that ensues at outside linebacker opposite Lavonte David and next to Kwon Alexander. As always, Go Bucs!