There is zero question as to whether or not the Buccaneers need to address linebacker in this draft. More specifically, they need an inside linebacker. Devin White has been the name linked to them all the way back before the Scouting Combine. But, what if the Bucs miss out on him? What if he goes to Oakland at four? What if the Buccaneers trade back and someone snags him before they get their chance?
Well, there’s plenty of viable options that would be impact guys. They could stick with linebacker and target Devin Bush. They could go with guys along the defensive line with players like Ed Oliver, Brian Burns, Christian Wilkins, Montez Sweat.
That, however, would still leave a big hole at linebacker and there aren’t really many of them that are worthy picks. The one guy that may be a decent consolation prize is Mack Wilson out of Alabama.
Mack Wilson’s Career
Wilson was a three year player with the Alabama Crimson Tide, amassing 113 total tackles, seven tackles for loss, one sack, six interceptions, seven passes defensed, and one fumble recovery. He finished third in the SEC in interceptions in 2017 with four and had his best season as a Junior with 65 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and two interceptions.
Wilson was a only a full time starter his Junior year. Other than that, he got playing time but wasn’t on the field nearly as much as he would’ve liked.
Wilson is fairly solid in his tackling as well as tracking down the ball carrier. He can be impactful when called upon to blitz as he had success there on delayed blitz calls with Bama. In coverage, he seems to move fluidly while looking at the quarterback, but that’s about where the positives end.
He could excel in special teams and his ability to change direction quickly are strong positives.
Slow off the snap without any initial one or two step burst. When he gets moving he can move pretty well, but that leads to over pursuing and missing ball carriers at times. He’s overly aggressive in coverage with running backs and can be easily beaten once the back gets a sliver of separation.
His quick decision making needs a ton of work. His hesitations have led to big plays for opposing offenses as he has trouble deciphering what he’s seeing and how to respond. He doesn’t shed blocks well which leads to him being removed from plays too often and too easily.
Why The Buccaneers Need Him
If they miss out on White or Bush, Wilson has some raw talent and intangibles that can help him develop into a starter. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, they don’t have the luxury of waiting for a developmental inside linebacker to quarterback Todd Bowles’ defense. He could be a decent consolation prize but it may cause the defense to struggle until he’s ready to take the reins.
Then again, desperate times call for desperate measures and if they are forced to take a linebacker after the top two guys, Wilson has the most potential to develop into that starting caliber player. The rest of the linebacker class is as weaker than any other draft in recent memory.
Will It Happen?
For the sake of Buccaneers fans’ sanity, you should hope not. It would take a day two pick which could be used on a starting caliber player at another position. In a draft where they have to hit on almost every pick, you can’t afford to use day two draft capitol on a developmental player out of desperation at the position. If it’s not one of the Devins, linebacker is essentially a no-go and that won’t bode well for the scheme change.