NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein released his top eight candidates to win the NFL’s Rookie of the Year award this upcoming season, topped by the Bucs’ fifth-overall draft pick Devin White.
White will be tasked with taking over a middle linebacker — and leadership — position that was left with a void after Tampa Bay chose to not re-sign Kwon Alexander this past offseason. Zierlein believes that White has the potential to not only fill the position, but thrive in it quickly.
“White might have been the fourth defensive player to come off the board (drafted fifth overall, after Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams and Clelin Ferrell), but he’s my favorite to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, thanks to his speed, work ethic and football IQ. With Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh up the middle for the Bucs, expect opposing running games to spill outside, which will play right into White’s blazing chase-and-tackle speed (he ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine). Like Colts linebacker — and reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year — Darius Leonard, who led the NFL last season with 163 tackles, White has the talent and traits to fill up a number of stat columns on a regular basis, which will only strengthen his case.”