The Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently have two linebackers on their 2019 roster who have played meaningful snaps in the past and played them well. Lavonte David is the only healthy one, as concerns have come to the surface regarding Kendell Beckwith’s injury and whether or not he’ll be able to play again.
Looking at inside linebackers and it doesn't get any better. The best potential inside guy they have currently is the same guy who has been their best outside linebacker since he arrived to the team, Lavonte David.
So, it’s easy to see how some have identified the position group as one in need of some serious attention this off-season, including in the NFL Draft. Here are five guys the Bucs could have their eyes on for just such an occasion, and how they stand following the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine.
JOSH ALLEN (KENTUCKY)
KEY COMBINE STAT: *4.63 40-YARD DASH
Josh Allen and Ohio State’s Nick Bosa (who is not part of this as there’s almost no chance he’s available for the Bucs at fifth or later) have been one and two for many people as the best edge defenders in this class.
At the combine, the measurables both participated in only served to cement this pecking order. Allen will tell you he’s the better of the two, as he should, but at this point I don’t see any way he’s overtaking Bosa in this group.
Being the second edge guy drafted will still net him a lot of money and plenty of opportunity to play, so I think he’ll be alright.
DEVIN BUSH (MICHIGAN)
KEY COMBINE STAT: *4.43 40-YARD DASH
Some people like Devin Bush as the best linebacker in this year’s group, some like Devin White. By looking at their combine performances, it’s likely they will continue to be the top-two guys entering the NFL Draft.
Bush outperformed or measured in at just about the same as White in every shared measurable.
White still looks like the more complete linebacker right now, but Bush has definitely helped his case, and if he interviewed well then he’ll likely be on top of someone’s board come April.
DRUE TRANQUILL (NOTRE DAME)
KEY COMBINE STAT: 6.94 3-CONE
This year’s linebacker group has gotten labeled as being very shallow. There just aren’t many guys who look like they can be complete linebackers with day-one value.
Notre Dame’s Drue Tranquill is one of the guys at the bottom of this shallow pool, but his combine performance is going to make some folks look again, and may tab him as a day three option for team’s in need of depth in the group.
No matter what, Tranquill is a guy who will give full effort in special teams support, and if his tape is a matter of scheme and coaching misuse rather than physical ability, he may become a diamond found in the rough during the NFL Draft.
DEVIN WHITE (LSU)
KEY COMBINE STAT: *4.42 40-YARD DASH
Devin White had an emotional reaction to his 4.42 40-yard dash. Undoubtedly a combination of stress, work, passion and support. To see it all come together in performance is bound to spark such a reaction. These kids are wound tight at the NFL Combine. Getting a moment to release some of that stress can be powerful.
White made money in Indianapolis. For some reason, there are fans of the Buccaneers who seem to think linebacker isn’t a position of need with just David confirmed for the 2019 roster. The Bucs fortunately see it differently.
MACK WILSON (ALABAMA)
KEY COMBINE STAT: 117” BROAD JUMP
I was a little down on Mack Wilson coming out of Alabama, and Aaron Suttles wrote about the opinion apparently being shared by his head coach, Nick Saban and defensive coaches in Alabama as well.
Turns out Wilson received questions about his social media usage by teams during formal and informal interviews while at the combine as well. Which made it all the more curious he would think it was a good idea to step up to the podium for his media session....on his phone. Not only did he step up on his phone, he stayed on his phone, for what was probably the longest few seconds I felt my entire time in Indianapolis. The ‘when is he getting off his phone’ feel, was palpable, folks.
Maturity. This is the question surrounding Wilson. It’s clear at this point the two Devin’s are at the top of this group. Wilson is third for most. And he’ll stay there. Unless his maturity during interviews raised more questions than answers.