The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have found a new face for their new defense – in addition to filling a need at inside linebacker – with the selection of LSU’s Devin White with the team’s first-round pick.
The Bucs did not trade down to acquire more picks, selecting White with the fifth overall pick. White’s selection should come as no surprise to PewterReport.com readers, as they have seen him be Tampa Bay’s first-round pick four out of five times in the 2019 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft dating all the way back to the first edition on January 18, and PewterReport.com’s FINAL 2019 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft on Saturday.
Adding team speed to the defense was an important goal this offseason for the Bucs and Tampa Bay gets the fastest linebacker in the draft in White, who was an All-American this season at LSU, in addition to winning the Butkus Award. White, who just turned 21 in January, was the leader of the Tigers defense over the last two seasons in which he was a first-team All-SEC linebacker.
After being a second-team All-American in 2017 for recording 133 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, three pass breakups and one interception, White terrorized the SEC last year, leading the conference in tackles with 123 stops, 12 tackles for loss, six pass breakups, three sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
White’s LSU Career Defensive Stats
2016: 30 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 FR
2017: 133 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 3 PBUs, 1 INT
2018: 123 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 6 PBUs, 3 sacks, 3 FFs, 2 FRs
One of the fastest and most explosive linebackers in college football, White has drawn comparisons to Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis, and has rare sideline-to-sideline speed. His 4.42 time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine was the fastest among all linebackers this year. When he hits, White brings the full force of his well-built 240-pound frame, and is also a dangerous blitzer.
“I’ve been a part of Ray Lewis,” LSU head coach Ed Orgeron told Rivals.com. “I’ve been a part of Patrick Willis, and he’s right there. He’s one of the best I’ve ever been a part of as far as middle linebackers go. He’s very talented, and I think he’s still getting better.”
White is a perfect fit for Bowles’ attack-style defense and can play on all three downs due to his speed and ability to blitz and drop in coverage. While he has to work on shedding blocks better at the next level, White has honed his instincts over the last two years and has a nose for the football. He also brings confidence and leadership ability to Tampa Bay’s defense.
“First and foremost I tell them, the tape don’t lie,” White said at his pro day. “It’ll speak for itself. The type of player I’ve been for LSU the last three years, even when I wasn’t in the spotlight and I wasn’t playing I was a guy who was always cheering on the other teammate. I was a guy who played special teams and just came to work everyday with a relentless attitude, whether it was in the weight room or the film room or the classroom. I was a guy who never missed a class at LSU. I was here three and a half years and I’m proud of that. I was a guy who had over a 3.0 every semester. I’ve got four classes and then I graduate. My work speaks for itself.”
LSU has a rich tradition for pumping out NFL-caliber linebackers with Tampa Bay having had three of them in Kwon Alexander, Kendell Beckwith and Kevin Minter. Other LSU linebackers in the NFL include Atlanta’s Deion Jones and Duke Riley, both of whom played with White, in addition to Seattle’s Barkevious Mingo, Detroit’s Kelvin Sheppard and Buffalo’s Corey Thompson.
To say that White is an alpha male would be an understatement. He’s the type of leader than can change a culture, and that’s what is needed at One Buccaneer Place. White, who is an effective blitzer from inside or from the edge, has the ability to play all of the linebacker spots.
At first glance, linebacker doesn’t seem like a position of need with Lavonte David leading the way as a team captain, in addition to Kevin Minter, who was re-signed and Deone Bucannon, who was added on a one-year deal to play the Moneybacker role in nickel defense. But David turns 29 this year, and Tampa Bay’s defense could use a tremendous leader to replace Alexander, one with speed and play-making ability to take over the Bucs defense for the long haul.
Keep in mind that Beckwith, a player capable of playing MIKE or SAM linebacker in Tampa Bay missed all of the 2018 campaign after recovering from a broken ankle last offseason. Beckwith, the team’s third-round pick in 2017, had setbacks with his ankle upon returning to practice in October after missing training camp and the preseason, and his status for 2019 remains in doubt.
The same could be said for Jack Cichy, last year’s sixth-round pick who tore his ACL in the Cleveland game shortly after Alexander tore his. With the availability of Beckwith and Cichy in question heading into 2019, in addition to Minter and Bucannon only being signed for one year, this underlies the need for another playmaking linebacker that could play and make an impact in Bowles’ defense, which will feature a 3-4 Under scheme.
That position in Tampa Bay has been filled by White in the first round.
Watch White’s LSU highlight video below.
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