It didn’t take long for Kwon Alexander to crack the Bucs starting lineup last season. Drawing coaches’ attention with his elite athleticism and raw talent, the LSU product earned the job of middle linebacker early in training camp, roughly two months after being taken in the fourth round of the 2015 draft.
In a matter of weeks, Alexander had developed into one of the defense’s integral players during his rookie year. Before a suspension for a banned substance, which sidelined him for the last four games, Alexander led the team in tackles (93) in addition to three sacks and two interceptions.
Those numbers are nearly identical through 12 weeks in 2016 – 97 tackles, three sacks and one INT – but it’s been the mental aspect of his game, the desire to learn, that’s made him a better player.
“Kwon is a guy who really wants knowledge,” defensive coordinator Mike Smith said Thursday. “He’s a great athlete and he seeks knowledge. He really wants to learn as much as he can about playing the game of football and being a professional, and that’s the thing that’s impressed me the most since training camp.”
Entering a new scheme in Year 2, Alexander, the guy responsible for making pre-snap calls, put the extra time in to learn the nuances of the defense. His one-on-one meetings in Smith’s office have continued into the regular season.
“It’s two days a week, early in the morning, we have a little conversation,” Smith said. “And it’s just impressed me the knowledge that he wants to have. He wants to be the guy who has the best understanding. When your middle linebacker wants to have the best understanding in your defense, it really helps you in my experience.”