If you were surprised by the pick of Auburn linebacker K.J. Britt in the fifth round, so was Britt. The Bucs took the hard-hitting linebacker after very little pre-draft communication with him. There was something about Britt that Tampa Bay liked, though, after only one meeting at the Senior Bowl.
“I was really blindsided,” Britt said. “I only really talked to the Bucs at the Senior Bowl, I had a great interview with the Bucs at the Senior Bowl. Didn’t talk to any of the coaching staff or nothing during the process. I had interviews with teams like three or four times and just one time with the Bucs at the Senior Bowl, like I said. Just made a good impression on them I guess.”
The Bucs put an emphasis on a few areas to improve their team, namely speed and a love for the game of football. Britt certainly fits their definition of having a passion for the sport. Though he missed all but two games last season due to injury, Britt still wanted to make sure he could return to play in the Senior Bowl to get one last look in front of scouts. Britt had a great week of practice where his fiery demeanor was on display. He was voted the top linebacker in practice and made five tackles in the game, in addition to a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.
“It hurt me not playing all these games,” Britt said. “I just wanted to go to the Senior Bowl and show them I could ball and just show what I could do. And just show that everything that I could do – try to put it to showcase.”
Britt ran a slower than expected time of 4.76 during his pro day, but pulled up during his 40-yard dash due to tightness in his hamstring. Most NFL teams had pegged Britt as a linebacker with speed in the 4.6 range.
Britt knows coming to the Bucs that he’ll play behind two studs in Devin White and Lavonte David. It’s a great opportunity to learn from the best in the league. In the meantime, he’ll play a role on special teams as he learns the defense.
“It doesn’t matter what I play,” Britt said. “I just want to be on the field. I’m hungry. I’m eager to play. Not playing this year, it really had an effect on me mentally, as well with the draft going in the fifth round, but it doesn’t matter, I just want to play football again. I don’t care what I play, I just want to go with a team that’s a winning team – Super Bowl champions from last year. I just want to go play and it doesn’t matter what I play, I promise.”
Another emphasis the Bucs had in this draft was improving on their special teams unit. Britt has experience playing there and could be fun to watch due to his hard-hitting nature. He’ll gladly accept that role to help contribute to the team right away.
“I want to play special teams,” Britt said. “I want to get better any way I can, I want to help the team out. I’m a big team player. If they need me on special teams, they need me on special teams. If they need me on defense, then defense. I just want to play football. At the end of the day special teams, defense – it’s all football. I’m a football player and I just want to play football. I’ll let the rest take care of itself.”