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Bucs Draft Profile: Linebacker, Michael Divinity

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Could the Buccaneers go back to the LSU well for linebacker in 2020?

NCAA Football: Georgia at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After addressing some key needs in the draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be in a prime position to attack the depth on the team. As we’ve seen in recent years, depth has become a bit of an issue at various positions.

For the Bucs, one of those positions is linebacker. With the future of Kendell Beckwith in severe doubt, Tampa Bay should look to bolster the position beyond the starting four guys.

Michael Divinity Jr.’s Collegiate Career

Divinity truly shined for the LSU Tigers as a Junior, playing in twelve games and finishing with 54 tackles - 9.5 for loss, four sacks, and an interception. In his four years, Divinity had 105 tackles - seventeen for loss - as well as eight sacks, two passes defensed, two fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles.

Unfortunately for Divinity, after breaking out as a Junior, he found himself in some trouble in his Senior season. Divinity was suspended for the final six games for violating team rules after testing positive for marijuana. Divinity was able to return for the College Football Playoffs, en route to a National Championship. Divinity had also missed two other games in 2019 due to failing a marijuana test.

Hopefully, for Divinity’s sake, the marijuana problem won’t creep up again as we’ve see with numerous NFL players in the past who were unable to kick the habit and found themselves out of the league because of it. Granted, with the new CBA no longer suspending players for positive marijuana tests, it may be a moot point.

Pros

His versatility and prototypical size are two that jump off the page immediately. At 6’2” 240lbs, Divinity is an imposing figure but with lackluster speed (ran a 4.85 40 at the combine). His ability to play inside linebacker in a 3-4 or bounce outside to be a pass rusher is beneficial when looking at a depth piece. Much like what the Bucs just got in Joe Haeg as a player that can play any position along the offensive line, Divinity could be that guy for the linebacking corps.

When he was featured primarily as a pass rusher in 2018, Divinity had nearly ten sacks. His length and stride lends itself to someone who can get to a ball carrier from various positions and bring them down - or at the very least, slow them down as help arrives.

His strength, elusiveness, and aggressive play allows him to shed blocks while in pursuit of the ball carrier or quarterback but again, his lack of speed hinders his ability to those things at times.

Cons

Mentioned it twice already - not a fast guy. However, with that, Divinity also lacks quickness needed when changing direction while in pursuit or when dropping in coverage. His pass coverage also leaves a lot to be desired, but that is certainly a fixable issue once around the right coaches.

His ability to read and react is slow and underdeveloped. His football I.Q. needs more development as his hesitation leads to missed opportunities. It’s either an inability to properly read what’s happening in front of him or it’s a matter of not trusting himself in his ability to process what he’s seeing. Either way, it’s a problem that will have to be dealt with if he is going to see any meaningful snaps in the NFL.

Why The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Need Michael Divinity

Quite simply, they don’t. The do, however, need to address the severe lack of depth at linebacker. Whether that’s with Divinity or someone else, it needs to be done. With Divinity, if he joins the Buccaneers that puts him in a great position to work on and develop some of these shortcomings with an established defensive coaching staff. Todd Bowles and linebacker coaches Mike Caldwell and Larry Foote, Divinity would get some of the best coaching he’s ever received in his life. Not to mention working with guys like Lavonte David and Jason Pierre-Paul on a daily basis would elevate his game exponentially.

It’s all about the versatility when searching for the depth, which Divinity possesses along with some raw abilities and talents. He’s a project, like most day three guys are.

Should It Happen?

I certainly think Tampa Bay may be one of if not the best landing spot for Divinity to continue to develop as a football player. The coaching, the leadership, and the knowledge within the position group could go a long way for a guy that shows the promise Divinity has. The biggest questions that remain are; is this who Divinity is? And is he willing to put in the work it will take to not be another third day pick buried on a practice squad?

I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed of the Bucs went with Divinity but I can certainly see them going in the direction of a player a little more polished and ready to be part of the 53-man roster as that roatational depth piece.

Poll

How Do You Feel About Michael Divinity For The Bucs In The 2020 NFL Draft?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Draft Him No Matter What
    (5 votes)
  • 6%
    Trade Back Candidate
    (9 votes)
  • 25%
    I Wouldn’t Mind It
    (38 votes)
  • 46%
    There Are Better Options
    (69 votes)
  • 19%
    Nope
    (29 votes)
150 votes total Vote Now