NFL Draft season is far too long, isn’t it?
Of course, draft season can be a good time. Everyone loves evaluating prospects and picking “their guys” so that they can take victory laps if their favorites pan out and turn into successful pros. And there can seemingly never be enough mock drafts—we all love those.
But when “redrafts” of past drafts come around... That’s when we get into banging-our-heads-against-the-wall-until-the-actual-draft-is-on territory. Look, these redrafts are great for content. Without them, this article wouldn’t exist. But my goodness, some just leave you scrathing your head.
Specifically, we’re talking about this one from Bleacher Report that dropped earlier this week. It focuses on 2019, which was the year that the Buccaneers spent the No. 5 overall pick on linebacker Devin White.
In his first two NFL seasons, the former LSU Tiger has posted a combined 231 tackles (155 solo), 11.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, five fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles, an interception and 21 quarterback hits in 28 regular season games. He is coming off of a 9.5-sack season and a postseason run that saw him tally 27 tackles (11 solo), three tackles for loss, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries on his way to earning a Super Bowl ring. In just two short years, White has become one of the biggest leaders and playmakers on Tampa Bay’s defense, often serving as a spark all over the field.
So, the logical route for the Bucs to take in this 2019 redraft is to skip right over him, right?
Instead, the writer had Tampa Bay selecting defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. Here’s the first part of what he had to say:
“Considering they just won a Super Bowl, the Buccaneers probably aren’t really regretting their decision to take linebacker Devin White with the No. 5 pick in 2019. White emerged as a quality blitzing option for his position, but he hasn’t developed into a great run-stuffer or coverage guy for the club yet.”
For one, at least he acknowledged that the Bucs couldn’t possibly have any regrets about drafting White with their No. 5 pick in 2019. But it sure seems like playing down the value that White brings to the defense, only saying he is a “quality blitzing option for his position.” Sure, his coverage ability has been questionable at times, but he’s still young and—as Bruce Arians said after the Bucs’ NFC Divisional Round win over the Saints—he proved he can cover anybody with the job he did against Alvin Kamara.
Now, let’s dive into the Williams side of this thing:
“If Tampa had been given the opportunity to select Quinnen Williams two years ago, it would be better served going that direction. Williams slumped out of the gate during his rookie year, picking up just 28 tackles and 2.5 sacks, and many wondered if he was the wrong fit for the Jets’ defensive scheme. He bounced back in a big way in 2020, totaling 55 tackles, seven sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in 13 games. The Alabama standout emerged as one of the top interior defensive linemen in the league, especially when it comes to getting pressure on the opposing signal-caller. Given how great the Bucs pass rush has been—one of the main reasons the club won it all in February—Williams’ presence would push them to a borderline unstoppable level.”
Now, let’s get this straight: Williams was a phenomenal prospect coming out of Alabama and looks to be well on his way to being an outstanding pro. He certainly would’ve added a lot to the Buccaneer defense. There’s no reason to knock him. But to act as if he would bring more value to Tampa Bay’s defense than White does? It just feels plain wrong to go that far. It’s no stretch to say that the Bucs likely don’t win the Super Bowl without their young linebacker leading the way on defense.
Now, it’s not outlandish to think that if Williams had fallen to No. 5, Tampa Bay would’ve had to consider snatching him up. But the way this is presented seems to diminish what Devin White is for the team, plus it insinuates that the Bucs may have been better off drafting for depth on the defensive line instead of selecting the best player at a true position of need. With the situation that the team was in after 2018, there’s no doubt that White was the rightful pick at No. 5.
Now, here’s the part that’s even worse about this redraft: White fell all the way to pick No. 20, where the Steelers finally took him. And in that breakdown of the pick, there are some complimentary things said about the speedy linebacker. It highlights the run he has been on with the Bucs and points to his production in the playoffs. But it ends with more picking at his weaknesses and the writer labeling him as “one-dimensional.”
It’s just plain wild to think that anyone has watched White in the first two years of his career and come away thinking he’s anything other than an essential playmaker on a Super Bowl-winning defense. If you remove him from the lineup, the Tampa Bay defense doesn’t look nearly the same.
Again, redrafts are solely for content purposes. And I realize that I really just wrote over 900 words about one. I sure did. But it just felt right to point out how silly this particular redraft was. So, while we could be up in arms about this, let’s just choose to laugh instead.