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FAB 1. David Becoming Bucs’ Master Thief
When Lavonte David hangs up his cleats he’ll go down as one of the best Buccaneers of all time – not just as a linebacker, but also as a thief.
I don’t mean thief in a bad way.
David is a good guy, a pillar in the community and certainly no criminal.
No, all of David’s thieving is done for Tampa Bay’s benefit at Raymond James Stadium and at other NFL fields. Not only is stealing allowed on defense in the NFL – it’s actually encouraged.
On the gridiron, David is a master thief, and if he continues to play for several more years at his current level in having a hand in nearly six takeaways per season he could wind up as Tampa Bay’s top turnover producer of all-time.
Right now, David ranks third on the Buccaneers’ all-time takeaway list with a combined 41 takeaways, trailing only legendary cornerback Ronde Barber, who had 74 takeaways in his 16 stellar seasons in Tampa Bay, and Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, who had 53 takeaways in his 14 glorious seasons with the Bucs.
David could surpass Brooks in the next two or three years depending on how many fumbles he forces and recovers and how many passes he intercepts.
Here is a list of some of Tampa Bay’s greatest defenders of all-time and top takeaway artists in the regular season. David ranks third on the list, which is quite impressive for a player with just seven seasons under his Bucs’ belt.
CB Ronde Barber: 47 INTs, 15 FF 12 FRs, 12 TDs = 74 takeaways
LB Derrick Brooks: 24 FF, 4 FR 25 INTs 7 TDs = 53 takeaways
LB Lavonte David: 18 FF, 13 FRs 10 INTs 3 TDs, 1 safety = 41 takeaways
CB Donnie Abraham: 31 INTs, 2 FF, 6 FR, 2 TDs = 39 takeaways
DE Lee Roy Selmon: 28.5 FF, 10 FR = 38.5 takeaways
SS John Lynch: 23 INTs, 7 FFs, 8 FRs = 38 takeaways
CB Cedric Brown: 29 INTs, 4.5 FFs, 4 FRs, 3 TDs = 37.5 takeaways
CB Mike Washington: 28 INTs 6 FFs, 2 FRs, 3 TDs = 36 takeaways
LB Hardy Nickerson: 7 INTs, 13 FFs, 9 FR = 29 takeaways
DT Warren Sapp: 3 INTs, 15 FFs, 9 FR, 1 TD = 27 takeaways
DE Simeon Rice: 4 INTs, 19 FFs 1 FR = 25 takeaways
DT Gerald McCoy: 6 FFs 4 FR = 10 takeaways
The 29-year old David has already surpassed the likes of Selmon and Sapp, two Hall of Famers, in addition to some of the team’s best defensive backs like Lynch and Abraham, who ranks second behind Barber on Tampa Bay’s all-time interception list.
Brooks retired in 2008 at age 35 after averaging 3.7 interceptions/forced fumbles/fumble recoveries throughout his career. Barber averaged 4.6 takeaways per year during his career, while David averages a higher rate at 5.8 per season. If David averages five takeaways per year for the next seven years through age 36, he’ll compile 35 more takeaways and produce a total of 76, which would be enough to pass Barber’s 74.
Although David didn’t record a sack or an interception in 2017, he did force five fumbles and recover five – both career highs – that season, including one for a touchdown. Last year, David managed to get 3.5 sacks, but didn’t record an interception although he did recover two fumbles and force one.
David is expected to do more blitzing in Todd Bowles’ 3-4 defensive scheme and that could result in the opportunity to force more fumbles as he’s a good blitzer. David is supposed to be featured in this defense like he was in Greg Schiano’s defense in 2013 when he was a first-team All-Pro, recording a career-high seven sacks, a career-high five interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
David had a hand in eight takeaways that year, which was the most he’s produced in any season. If those types of results can be duplicated in Tampa Bay during the 2019 campaign in Bowles’ defense, it will not only help the Buccaneers win some more games, but also put him closer to surpassing Brooks and Barber as the franchise’s takeaway king.