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May 11, 2012 @ 7:00 am
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2012 Bucs Draft Review

David’s Sure Tackling Will Help Bucs Defense

WRITTEN_BY Scott Reynolds Scott Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

Publisher
The comparisons to legendary Buccaneer Derrick Brooks are obvious due to Lavonte David’s size and tackling ability – and that’s not a bad thing for a rookie that is poised to start at weakside linebacker.
The fact that he’s wearing number 54 might remind you of Geno Hayes, the weakside linebacker that Lavonte David, Tampa Bay’s second-round draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, is replacing.

The fact that David is similarly built to the undersized Hayes with narrow shoulders, standing just 6-foot-1 and weighing only 233 pounds might make some Buccaneers fans groan.

After seeing the once proud Tampa Bay defense get gashed, trampled and run over in the ground game by opponents during the past four seasons, most Bucs fans would love to see a 6-foot-4, 250-pound monster of a linebacker prowling the gridiron, ready to blow up blocks by offensive linemen and destroy running backs at the line of scrimmage.

That’s certainly not David, who looks slightly bigger than strong safety Mark Barron, the Bucs’ first-round pick this year. The Nebraska product is muscular and well built, but he’s no hulk.

What David is though is a sure tackler. He’s a textbook tackler. Heck, he’s a tackling machine, evidenced by the fact that he recorded an amazing 285 tackles in just two years for the Cornhuskers.

After David’s Fort Scott team lost the national championship game to Cam Newton’s Blinn Community College team in 2009, he moved on to Nebraska where he took advantage of injuries to Will Compton and Sean Fisher to become an immediate starter. His 152 tackles as a junior set a Nebraska single-season record and David went on to win Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year honors.

When David went to Nebraska there was some discussion as to whether he would play linebacker or strong safety because he weighed less than 230 pounds, but his aggressive, hard-hitting style made up for his lack of size.

“I don’t care what anybody says about my size, I just like playing football,” David said. “I’m very passionate about it, and I’m going to do the best I can.”

It was that attitude, and his penchant for making tackles behind the line of scrimmage – as he did 24.5 times at Nebraska – that made him more of a natural fit at linebacker despite the fact that he can run and cover like a safety.

“It’s fun [playing linebacker],” David said. “You can tackle and deliver hits instead of taking them. It’s a real fun position.”

David goes for the knockout hit when the opportunity presents itself, but otherwise he tackles around the waist or behind the knees to ensure that the ballcarrier goes to the ground. His tackling style is reminiscent of legendary linebacker Derrick Brooks, and certainly a lot better than that of Hayes.

In fact, as a Florida native, David grew up following the Buccaneers and was a big fan of Brooks.

“I know a lot about Derrick Brooks,” David said. “I watched him at Florida State. He’s a great football player. He’s a great person as well. I always picture the play where he made that interception in the Super Bowl. There were a lot of interceptions, but that last one sealed the game so I remember that one.”

Brooks went down as one of the greatest leaders in Buccaneers history, and the leadership potential David has and what he showed by being a team captain at Nebraska last year was a factor in Tampa Bay wanting so desperately to draft him in the second round. The Bucs view David as their opening day starter at weakside linebacker.

“[Brooks] was a leader on and off the field, and that was kind of my role throughout my college career,” David said. “Like I said, the coaches brought me in, they felt like I was a good leader and a good football player.

“A lot of people are trying to compare my game to his but you can’t really do that. [Brooks] is one of the all-time greats. I’m just trying to make a name for myself.”

One of the reasons why David is often compared to Brooks is because of their sideline-to-sideline speed, tackling ability and undersized frame. Brooks was labeled as an oversized safety coming out of Florida State and despite an All-America career in college, he fell to the latter part of the first round of the 1995 draft until Tampa Bay traded back up into the first round to select him.

The Buccaneers made a similar move to get a similarly-sized player in David, trading away a fourth-round pick that was acquired when the team traded down in the first round to move from the third round to the second round to land the Nebraska linebacker.

“I played in two different conferences, and in each conference I got better,” David said, commenting on the fact that he played in both the Big 12 and Big 10 conferences with Nebraska. “I was doubted coming into the draft about my size and hopefully I can just improve on what I did in college.

“I’ve been doubted my whole life. I’ve made a living out of proving people wrong with what I’ve been doing, so I’m going to try to keep that up.”

While David physically resembles Brooks, and brings Brooks-like college production and tackling prowess to the NFL, he has a long way to go before he can truly be compared to the player known as the greatest Buccaneer in franchise history. Yet if David can be even half the player Brooks was for Tampa Bay the Bucs will certainly be better off because of it.
Last modified on Monday, 21 May 2012 08:20

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Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds

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COMMENTS

  • avatar

    I think his playing weight was closer to 220-225 lbs. Maybe he'll be able to bulk up like Brooks did.
  • avatar

    Don't understand why everyone keeps saying his weight is an issue. D.Brooks weighed 235lbs.
  • avatar


    Plenty of good LBs in the NFL same size as David. He should be fine...
  • avatar


    David is adequate and would be considered to be better if we had a defensive line which we do not. Only Clarborne has proven that he is an consistent NFL player. The next semi consistent defensive lineman is Bennett which shows how weak we really are on the DL. At this point McCoy, Price, Bowers, are just players on the team with big hope and little proof. Ugh! We still have very serious Defense problems. I think I will take back my over excited after draft week and change my hope of 8-9 wins back to a realistic 6-7 wins. We did not address the Defense enough in the draft nor free agency. I fully understand that this is at least another year of waiting to be competitive. Morris really hurt us and we can't take it back, but to be of mind that this is 2009 again. At least we now have some discipline and some regiment which will help. Now all we have to do is get another 5 good players on Defense and a good TE on Offense.
  • avatar


    Maybe everyone is comparing to the next derrick brooks, He may be the next Brooks-Noone is the Derrick Brooks like only Derrick brooks-I say if he is half the brooks-He will be an impack on defense-GO BU*CS
  • avatar


    First off 6 1 230 is plenty big enough to get people on the ground. What everyone worries about is weather he can shed blocks when line men make it to the second level. Not having watched tape like S.R.only Scott can shed some light on if David has that ability. What you really want from your linebackers is the ability to avoid those linemen altogether. If David can diagnose plays quickly, and get to the ball before the linemen get to him, there won't be any problem. Brooks wasn't at his best shedding blocks either, he made a pro bowl career seeing the field, and using his speed to make plays, that's why it was over for him later in his career when he lost a step. I'm expecting David will do just fine.
  • avatar

    This reminds me of an article I read on this same website where Sabby Piscatelli was going to be the next John Lynch. McCoy the next Sapp.
  • avatar

    All I know from watching football a long time is that if your front four doesn't generate the push, it doesn't matter if you have three LB's that weight 250lbs, they are going backwards. I never will forget before Baltimore signed Haloti Ray Lewis had a few embarrassing games in which the Ravens D was not getting the pressure up front necessary to allow Ray to do what he does best. The Giants pushed him back all afternoon and there wasn't anything the future Hall of Famer could do except take on the blocks and allow other guys to tackle Tiki Barber 10 yards downfield. It provided the perfect example for what I've been screaming for years. The Ravens knew it too, and wasted no time fixing the middle of the field with the signing of Haloti. Since then, Ray Lewis hasn't missed a beat. I hate the term block shedding with LB's. Yes there are LB's that can shed blocks better than others, but listen folks, don't kid yourself, if a 300 LB lineman, or two of them in some instances get their hands on you, your not shedding those blocks. They will drive you through the end zone if they wanted too. If the Bucs up front can do the job, I say this kid will end up being just fine. Might even be a steal.
  • avatar


    My concern with David isn't his weight, it's his speed. He ran a 4.65 at the combine, which would be fine if he weighed 250 lb. Yes Brooks was 235 lb, but he also ran a 4.5, was probably the smartest defender of his era and had an incredible work ethic. That doesn't mean David won't be a great LB, but it does mean he already has 2 strikes against him. If David's instincts translate well to the NFL and if he has a great work ethic he'll be a good LB. Oh and Brooks didn't miss a game until the very end of his career. I'm sure staying healthy will also improve David's learning curve.
  • avatar

    Wasn't Barret Ruud from Nebraska as well??
  • avatar


    bucfan47 - well said. Your post was almost as good as this article. This kid has a long road ahead of him. Derrick Brooks was the perfect player at the perfect time in the Buc's history (beginning of the Dungy era). Time will tell is Schiano will be able to build a great defense for Mr. David to be a part of. That may be a better way to look at it.
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