Bucs linebacker Devin White can generally divide opinion throughout the fan base. Is he a prime off-ball linebacker, or is he too typically a legal responsibility? Ought to the workforce be locked in on giving him a big-money contract, or ought to decision-makers be in wait-and-see mode?
No matter your opinion could also be, you’re more likely to cling to it fairly strongly. And that’s why Professional Soccer Focus’ redraft of the 2019 NFL Draft can be polarizing for the Tampa Bay trustworthy.
The Bucs chosen White with the No. 5 total choose in 2019. On the time, it was an attention-grabbing state of affairs to observe unfold. Drafting an off-ball linebacker that prime isn’t sometimes thought of greatest apply, however for a participant with as a lot potential as White, you may possibly make an exception. Jason Licht and his workers clearly felt assured concerning the former LSU Tiger coming in and being a difference-maker. And given his function in Tampa Bay’s Tremendous Bowl LV run two seasons in the past, can you actually say they have been incorrect?
Former Pewter Reporter and present PFF analyst Trevor Sikkema broke down this 2019 redraft and admitted as a lot, no less than with respect to White’s function within the workforce’s Tremendous Bowl season. In fact, he has an attention-grabbing perspective of this choice significantly. Going again and doing the draft another time, would Sikkema have the Bucs sticking with their choose?
The reply, really, is not any. As an alternative, he had Tampa Bay taking Titans Professional Bowl defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons at No. 5.
“This re-selection is likely to be divisive. On one hand, the Bucs in all probability don’t win their 2021 Tremendous Bowl with out Devin White. His velocity and play-making capacity as a blitzer and across the line of scrimmage (particularly in Todd Bowles’ protection) have been key components of why Tampa Bay was in a position to hoist the Lombardi Trophy,” Sikkema wrote. “Alternatively, was the person return on funding of an off-ball linebacker at No. 5 the only option? Including the good thing about hindsight, I’d say no.
“Attempting to maintain issues considerably practical concerning what every workforce would have been on draft night time in 2019, the Bucs have been simply months away from shifting on from Gerald McCoy, which suggests this draft was properly earlier than they acquired Ndamukong Suh. Drafting Simmons as a substitute means they’d have the most effective younger line of defense in soccer in 2022.”
Was White The Proper Or Improper Alternative For The Bucs In 2019?
White had an attention-grabbing debut season. He bought a late begin to the yr, however ended up beginning 13 video games. He totaled 91 tackles (58 solo), 2.5 sacks, three compelled fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries and an interception. It was a promising begin to his profession, and he adopted with an enormous yr in 2020. In that sophomore season, he posted 140 tackles (97 solo), 9 sacks, 16 quarterback hits, a compelled fumble and a fumble restoration. Then, in three postseason video games, he racked up 38 tackles (27 solo), two fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
Throughout components of the 2020 season, White appeared misplaced in protection. The massive performs largely made up for it anyway, however then he had a playoff run that noticed him correctly deal with all facets of his recreation extraordinarily properly. That raised expectations for his third season, however in a approach, he took a step backward in 2021.
The splash performs have been much less frequent and as a lot as White likes to make use of his velocity, he performed too quick at instances. Over-running the ballcarrier or over-pursuing in protection turned a daily situation. All of that apart, although, he earned his first Professional Bowl nod. He completed with 128 tackles (87 solo), 3.5 sacks, 18 quarterback hits and a fumble restoration. This offseason, the Bucs picked up his fifth-year choice, that means he has two seasons remaining on his rookie contract.
As one of many defensive captains, White performs a serious function on a playoff-contending workforce. His velocity and athleticism are second to none, and he is aware of the place he must lock in and enhance. The Bucs have to like what they’ve seen from their 2019 first-round choose.
However as Sikkema laid out, Simmons match properly for Tampa Bay on the time. The previous Mississippi State standout simply had a breakout season in 2021, incomes his first Professional Bowl choice after tallying a career-high 9 sacks and 16 quarterback hits. With McCoy on his approach out on the time, Simmons might’ve stepped proper in subsequent to Vita Vea and made for an insanely spectacular inside line of defense stuffed with youth.
With hindsight, you may see the place Sikkema’s line of considering is. And whereas he’s not essentially incorrect, it’s laborious to really feel down about how issues have turned out. White was a key member of Tampa Bay’s run to the Lombardi Trophy two seasons in the past and he has all of the instruments to be an enormous playmaker for the Bucs in the long term. He has two seasons left to show why he deserves an enormous second contract in Tampa.
Plus, there’s an argument to be made that the workforce’s line of defense heading into 2022 is likely to be one of many league’s greatest anyway. Perhaps it’s not among the best “younger” defensive strains, as Akiem Hicks is 32, Will Gholston is 30, Vea is 27 and rookie Logan Corridor is 22. However that’s a formidable group. And having them paired with the hungry, hard-working White, who remains to be solely 24, leaves the Tampa Bay protection in a great place because it seems to be to copy its 2020 success and get again to the Tremendous Bowl.