Round 7: Georgia DE Jonathan Ledbetter
6-4, 280 – Senior
Previous Pick: SMU CB Jordan Wyatt
The Bucs continue to take advantage of an ultra-deep draft for defensive linemen and use their final draft pick at the top of the seventh round on Ledbetter, Georgia’s defensive end. Tampa Bay could use another big five-tech defensive end to rotate with Will Gholston on the strongside of Todd Bowles’ new 3-4 base defense and Ledbetter has had experience playing that role in Georgia’s 3-4 scheme over the years.
Ledbetter, a team captain for the Bulldogs, is a very hard worker who plays with great energy. He’s limited athletically, as evidenced by an average showing at the NFL Scouting Combine where he ran a 5.14 in the 40-yard dash at 280 pounds. There were plenty of 300-pound defensive linemen that turned in faster times. Ledbetter also didn’t wow with his 9-foot broad jump or his 26.5-inch vertical jump.
Ledbetter’s stats at Georgia aren’t jaw-dropping by any means, either. He’s recorded just 122 career tackles as a four-year player and two-year starter, in addition to 14.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Ledbetter is a decent pass rusher, but because of his lack of speed and elite athleticism he usually winds up pressuring the quarterback far more often than finishing the plays and generating sacks.
Ledbetter’s Georgia Career Defensive Stats
2015 4 tackles
2016 24 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack
2017 38 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks
2018 56 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2 FFs, 1 sack
Bucs general manager Jason Licht loves tough, physical defensive linemen, and Ledbetter checks those boxes. The Bulldogs star had a really good week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. and shined during the practices. The scrappy defensive end registered a tackle for loss and a QB hurry in the game in limited playing time.
Ledbetter has enough functional strength to hold up at the point of attack the way Gholston does, and could be a valuable situational sub in Tampa Bay at the five-tech defensive end position if he continues to develop. Ledbetter might be a fifth-round pick in other years where the defensive line depth isn’t so great, but he’s essentially a steal in the seventh round for the Bucs this year.
Watch Ledbetter’s highlight reel and you’ll see enough draftable traits there that make him an intriguing option in the seventh round.