table of contents
- SR's Fab 5 - 5-11
- 2012 Bucs' Draft Evaluation: SS Barron
- 2012 Bucs' Draft Evaluation: RB Martin
- 2012 Bucs' Draft Evaluation: LB David
- Bucs' 2012 Draft Evaluation: LB Goode
- Bucs' 2012 Draft Evaluation: CB Tandy
- Bucs' 2012 Draft Evaluation: RB Smith
- Bucs' 2012 Draft Evaluation: TE Dunsmore
- Four Positions Need To Be Addressed In Tampa Bay In 2013
- The Glazers Delivered Big Time This Offseason
- Point-Counterpoint - Which 2012 Draft Pick Was The Bucs' Best?
- David’s Sure Tackling Will Help Bucs Defense
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.