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SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL.

FAB 1. White Is A Legend In The Making

This is my 24th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and I haven’t been this excited about a first-round pick since my first year covering the team.

That first year covering the Bucs would be back in 1995 when I walked in the door with defensive tackle Warren Sapp and linebacker Derrick Brooks – two first-round draft picks that wound up being first-ballot Hall of Famers.

There have been a few first-round picks I’ve really liked over the years, including the recent selections of wide receiver Mike Evans, quarterback Jameis Winston and tight end O.J. Howard. I even saw the wisdom in drafting defensive tackle Vita Vea last year, as I believe he will be Gerald McCoy’s replacement at the three-technique defensive tackle spot – perhaps as soon as this year.

But nothing like the excitement I’ve felt over the selection of LSU inside linebacker Devin White. I’ve predicted that White would be the Bucs’ pick dating back to January for a reason, and I’ve advocated for his selection by Tampa Bay in my SR’s Fab 5 for months. The 2018 Butkus Award winner is an absolute stud – a legend in the making – and I’ll stake my professional reputation on that.

Not to pile undue expectations on the 21-year old White, but I wouldn’t be surprised if White becomes the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

I wouldn’t be surprised if White unseats Luke Kuechly as the NFC’s Pro Bowl middle linebacker sooner rather than later.

I wouldn’t be surprised if White makes multiple Pro Bowls in Todd Bowles’ defense where he’ll shine over the course of his Bucs career.

I wouldn’t even be surprised if White ends up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he stays healthy and can help turn the Bucs into perennial winners with another trip or two to the Super Bowl in the next decade. Yes, White has that type of ability.

Those are a lot of big “ifs,” but after meeting White in person I can see why the Bucs chose him at No. 5, and probably had him ranked as high as No. 3 on their draft board behind Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa if I had to guess.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, LB Devin White and GM Jason Licht

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, LB Devin White and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

White is more than up to the task and doesn’t mind any lofty expectations that I – or anyone – places on him because his own expectations for his career in Tampa Bay will be even higher.

“As I sit here for the first time, I would like the fans to know that you’re getting a great guy and you’re going to get an even greater guy on the field,” White said in his introductory press conference. “Everybody has seen my potential at the college level, but I feel like I’m an unfinished prospect. I feel like my game is at a high level. But with the coaching staff here, the defensive coaching staff – Coach [Mike] Caldwell, Coach Todd – I feel like my game can go to a whole new level.

“So what they’ve seen in college, tell them don’t expect [that] – expect even more. And that’s just knowing what type of coaches I’m going to be around. I know they’re going to want the best from me and they’re going to require the best from me and I’m going to give them the best out of me.”

There are some Bucs fans that cling to the notion that drafting a middle linebacker with the fifth overall pick isn’t as valuable as drafting an edge rusher like Kentucky’s Josh Allen, whom Tampa Bay passed over to select White. In a traditional 4-3 defense there is logic to that argument, but in Bowles’ 3-4 defense and with the way that he plans to use White and his 4.42 speed, who will blitz a lot from the interior, the 2018 Butkus Award winner was the absolute perfect fit.

Arians loved the pick and vigorously defended it last Friday following Whites press conference.

“That value bullshit about linebackers – they don’t know our defense first of all,” Arians said of those who criticize the selection of White. “We blitz up the middle a ton, and when you watch him come off the edge, he’s special. And we’re going to use that with Lavonte [David] more than we ever have in the past. I think our fans and everybody thinks we’re going to be in a 4-3 defense, which is not what we play. It’s not a guy sitting in the middle running sideline-to-sideline. He’s a very disruptive player and we build everything on disruption. So yeah, he was the perfect fit of all fits for us.”

Mentioning White in the same breath as Sapp and Brooks, who are two of the franchise’s all-time greats along with the late Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon, might seem awfully premature on my part and perhaps even blasphemous. But you come to PewterReport.com to get my opinion on your favorite team, and I try to not hold back with my praise or criticism of this team and deliver the unvarnished truth as I see it.

I could feel White’s presence at his press conference and in the 20-minute interview session with the Bucs’ beat writers in the media workroom that followed. He spoke with the gravitas and poise that Brooks had early on in his career. Players, media and fans were just simply drawn to Brooks’ charisma and confidence as a rookie, and his speed and playmaking ability were evident from the start.

White has that similar aura about him. He draws you in like a moth to a flame in the same way Jameis Winston’s infectious personality does to his offensive teammates. It’s a natural leadership ability that is rare.

Bucs LB Lavonte David - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Lavonte David has worn a “C” on his chest for a long time, and he – like McCoy – is a lead-by-example guy the way legendary Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber was. Barber was happy to be Brooks’ lieutenant in Tampa Bay and never felt comfortable addressing the team or being the focal point on defense. David is the same way, and gladly deferred the vocal leadership role to Kwon Alexander over the last few years for the same reason Barber deferred to Brooks. To David’s credit, he did step up his leadership last year and became more vocal down the stretch when Alexander went down during the sixth game of the year after tearing his ACL.

Look for White to quickly assert himself as a leader in Tampa Bay – even if it’s David and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul who wind up wearing the “C” on their chest this season.

In addition to having some of Brooks’ traits, White also has some of Sapp’s leadership characteristics, too. Although he doesn’t have Sapp’s surly, gruff personality, the LSU product does have Sapp’s will to win, swagger and to demand accountability from other players – and that’s a trait that has been missing from Tampa Bay’s defense for a decade.

White’s swagger was apparent when I asked White about the prospects of facing three Super Bowl quarterbacks in New Orleans’ Drew Brees, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Carolina’s Cam Newton twice a year in the NFC South.

“Those are all people that I can take down and get them on the ground,” White said. “Cam Newton, the bigger you are the harder you fall. Matt Ryan, I don’t think he can outrun me. And Drew Brees, I definitely don’t think he can outrun me. He can get it out quick, but I can get in the passing lanes and I can hold his guys. I’m ready to accept the challenge. You know the bigger the challenge, the better I play. I told [the Bucs] last night: pressure either busts pipes or makes diamonds. For me it makes diamonds.”

Legendary Bucs DT Warren Sapp & Jon Gruden - Photo by: Getty Images

Legendary Bucs DT Warren Sapp & Jon Gruden – Photo by: Getty Images

That’s the kind of thing Sapp would say, although Sapp would say it with a frown and a killer look in his eye. When White says it, it comes through with an ultra-confident Brooks-esque smile on his face.

I wasn’t expecting such candor from White following his initial press conference, but it was absolutely refreshing to hear.

Don’t think I’m putting too much emphasis on the fact that White won the press conference before playing his first down in red and pewter. But understand that this was the same type of first impression that White made with the Bucs when he had a 15-minute interview with Arians, Bowles, general manager Jason Licht, director of pro personnel John Spytek, director of college scouting Mike Biehl and inside linebackers coach Mike Caldwell at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The swagger, the confidence, the accountability, the leadership – it’s all there to see, plain as day.

It’s not all talk with White, either.

Like Bowles, Arians and Licht have said, White’s tape speaks for itself. The fact that White will play alongside Lavonte David and learn from him will only accelerate his learning curve as a player and a leader during his rookie season.

Sooner rather than later, White will become the face of the Bucs’ defense and its leader for years to come.

“He was younger than the guys at LSU when he was a sophomore captain,” Arians said. “Look, some guys have it. Other guys say, ‘Let me do my job and follow me.’ Alright, he’s going to do that, but he’s going to say, ‘Hey, man,’ and he’s going to hold some guys accountable, and that we need.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and ILB Devin White

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and ILB Devin White – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“When I looked at the board, and there were some really quality players, but for what we needed, and what his attributes are, he was a perfect fit. That doesn’t happen to you very often. And I mentioned to [the media] earlier that you don’t draft for need. But when need and the player match, man, you’ve got a home run. This is one of those home runs. This was a grand slam.”

To put it in football terms, the drafting of White might be the game-winning Hail Mary touchdown that was needed to bring Tampa Bay’s defense back to not only respectability – but to dominance like the drafting of Sapp and Brooks did for this franchise in 1995.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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2 years ago

Solid stuff. My initial unhappiness with the Bucs draft has been replaced by cautious hope. White has definitely impressed and seems likely to be a difference-maker on the D going forward. Looking forward to seeing the guys in action in OTA’s and minicamp.

2 years ago

I would much rather have seen the Bucs go with your draft Scott. I think we would’ve actually helped our defense more with the selections of Risner, and Henderson, taking them in the 2nd, and 3rd, then still getting corner safety help. Or even just taking Risner in the 2nd, I have no confidence in Dotson this season.

2 years ago

Scott all but said he felt a tingle go down his leg, White will be a starter this year with technic issues that will solve in 1-2 years. he will become Bucs best hope for a pro bowl selection 2020.
I really wanted Allen and the selection of White was a disappointment for that reason only.
It is hard to miss at 5 and Jason got a talent even if not the best talent on board.

2 years ago

I’ve been neutral on this draft class much as I was last year for many of the same reasons Scott has mentioned. Just because the media isn’t sold on one of our selections, it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad selection. I make the assumption that each pick is not only considered as to available talent but also how that player will fit into the team player and what kind of impact the positional coach sees possible with that player. Time and again I’ve seen players drafted by one team make little to no impact but go to another team… Read more »

2 years ago

Nobody ever knows how a particular player let alone an entire draft class will perform, obviously. Overall, I remain a big skeptic over how well this team will actually perform. My personal opinion is that our players overall got worse this offseason, not better. Apparently, quite a few others who are much more knowledgeable than me feel similarly – including the Las Vegas oddsmakers who put the over under for the Bucs at 6.5 – the second lowest in the league, and put the Bucs as 100:1 for winning the Super Bowl, again second lowest in the league. This week’s… Read more »

2 years ago

Scott, …”not to pile undue pressure”… on White. But let’s compare him to Derrick Brooks, establish him as the Defensive Rookie of the Year, future Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer.

The guy hasn’t even put on a Bucs practice jersey and you’ve got him being fitted for a Super Bowl ring and Golden Jacket. Nice.

2 years ago

Scott, put down the dumb Kool-Aid. Legend in the making?? Yeah it’s evident by his 8.5 career sacks in 3 seasons, isn’t it? You mean, more like bust in the making.

2 years ago

Very interesting stuff… If the Bucs thought that highly of Sweat, why in the world did they not try to trade up to get him? Sweat was taken 25th overall and the price to trade up was pretty light throughout the draft. If this intel is correct then Licht made a mistake not moving up to get someone he was comfortable with taking at 5. Also, if we are to take Joe Gilbert at face value with what he said yesterday, the Bucs really wanted to take Cody Ford and not Bunting with that 2nd round pick. I actually like… Read more »

2 years ago

I am not ready to go gaga over a player before he plays his first down in Pewter in Red.

2 years ago

I love this draft. Wasn’t too hyped about White with Allen being there but after hearing what BA said and watching more tape on White I think he was a great pick at 5. I don’t understand why the “experts” and odd makers have the Bucs at 31 and 32 after the draft. Did they not learn after they all had the Colts at 32 last season? No one thought the Colts would have been a playoff team or SB contender but they got the right coach and made the right picks for a roster that was considered to be… Read more »

2 years ago

Frank Riecht as an offensive coordinator the year before won a Superbowl Bruce Arians last year he coached the football team had a losing record won 7 games and was retired by the owners the team Arizona was left with became the worst team in the league big difference than the Colts.

Reply to  BUC-ASS-BOB
2 years ago

Once again I have to say, what the hell are you talking about?

2 years ago

I was replying to pomer1eau just some facts

2 years ago

After only winning 7 games Bruce Arians was what they call re-fired retire or get fired and the team Arizona was left with was last place when the Colts hired a new coach they hired one as an offensive coordinator who won the Super Bowl a traditional way to hire a coach p the glaciers like to hire coaches like Lovie Smith who had losing records as defense coordinator and Dirk who ran the last place offense as offensive coordinator was made a head coach here . And now Bruce Arians who had a losing record as a head coaches… Read more »

2 years ago

Another fact…punctuation tools like periods and commas are useful, beautiful things.

2 years ago

Scotty Miller; 5-foot-9, 174-pounds; 4.3 40 y dash
DeSean Jackson; 5-foot-10, 175- pounds; 4.35 40 y dash

2 years ago

I agree with Dman and seat26. The game is played on the field. This player seems to be a legend in his own mind; not in our own time.

2 years ago

Referring once again to White, or any rookie; “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

2 years ago

I am no fan of the draft because history tells us that teams are built from the front back. We had better options available along the defensive line that we should have taken regardless of how well White interviewed. We sit here after every draft explaining away bad draft picks but the win column doesn’t lie. What we should be concerned with is what happens if something happens to Vea? Everyone acts like letting GMC go is such a formality but what from a roster standpoint suggests that we can even entertain that idea? Because lets be smart, LBs fly… Read more »

Reply to  stlbucsfan
2 years ago

Look you can love Derwin James over Vita Vea. Many will accept that.

However, your 1st premise in your comment is that you build from the front to the back. Well last year we took a guy in the front over a guy in the back. i.e. your 1st comment seems to suggest buc’s were smarter to take Vita Vea last year.

What ONE interior defensive lineman that was available this year after the Buc’s #5 pick would you have them take instead of White in your review?

2 years ago

I’m not buying the we didn’t draft OL because it was a weak year, but next year is a strong year for OL spiel. Last year was a weak year for DL and this year was a strong year for DL. Last year we drafted a DL high in a weak year and drafted DL low in a strong year. Stop trying to make sense of Licht’s draft strategy because it’ll just drive you nuts!

2 years ago

Enjoyed the Fab Five even though I didn’t agree with some of it.
I wouldn’t be declaring anyone all everything who hasn’t even played in the NFL yet.
I will say Scott did help me understand the reasons why they drafted some of the players that they did.

Captain Sly
2 years ago

Your arms have got to be tired by now from carrying all this water for Jason Licht.
you are spot on in your assessment of team building. Everybody wants new rims and a paint job but few are willing to get there hands greasy work on the engine. A slick salesman knows that a coat of paint can sale anyone except those with a carful eye.

2 years ago

Just read Fab 1 only so far.

Go Bucs!!!!

2 years ago

DumbAssBob, BA’s Cardinals were down to their third string QB FOR almost half the season. They lost their starter. Carson Palmer, in the first quarter of the season.
Shut up you ignorant fool.

2 years ago

I could do with a little less patting-on-your-own-back with the Bucs Best Bets stuff :P Look, I’ll never be in the locker room and see what is going on and frankly, I don’t really care. As a viewer, I just hope the damn team can eat some freaking Ws already! If being a culture changer will actually translate to the field then alright, but the dude better be good by himself. Being a leader and all that cr*p doesn’t make you a better tackler and read coverage which I saw White have issues with. Right now, to me, he’s just… Read more »

2 years ago

Scott, another great FAB 5.

You are coming into your own as a reporter and a Buccaneers’ insider. You can still get away with wearing your Bucs fan hat as well sometimes. I think you know when to do that and when not to do that also.
Go Bucs!!!!!

2 years ago

I do like both of Scott’s drafts better, though I do believe in the end, this draft will turn out better tan we think. Allen, Oliver or whoever can go on to have better careers, but if this teams starts to turn things around, who cares if Barry Sanders had a better career than the combination of Alstott and Dunn, we were winning. the real deal that bothered me in the draft was that the Bucs let the Rams keep the higher of their two draft picks in the 3rd round. No way you drop back 25 spots for 1… Read more »

2 years ago

Scott saying that the Raiders were going to take Bunting after the Bucs reeks of Dave Gettleman saying that he knew for a fact two teams were going to take Daniel Jones between 6 and 17. After he made that statement there was immediate pushback including this gem from Bruce Allen (the only GM rated lower than Licht in the NFL.com GM Power Rankings this year) “”We picked the player we wanted to pick,” he said, via NFL.com. “I’m almost positive Dave has no clue what our draft board would be. I don’t know which draft boards he knows, but… Read more »

2 years ago

@geno711 I would’ve taken Oliver at 5 and found another ILB later in the draft. Just saying we apparently need a leader in secondary an alpha type that can cover and tackle just sounds an awful lot like the Pro Bowler he passed on last year. Vita might validate this pick for another GM but Licht shouldn’t be around to see it. After the 1st round I think the better value was along the OL in round 2, I would’ve packaged a 5 or 6th and moved up a few spots to land a guy like Cody Ford. We couldn’t… Read more »

2 years ago

I agree with you @stlbucsfan Licht has been MIA in the second round and part of it is getting gun-shy when certainly players are available early in the second round. In 2017 it was Dalvin Cook who was falling, in 2018 Will Hernandez, widely considered a late first round pick and prototype guard was sitting there in the beginning of the second round. This year Jawaan Taylor and Cody Ford were both available early in Rd 2 and the Bills literally leapfrogged Licht and got their man while Licht started a string of DB selections leaving the cupboard bare at… Read more »

Alldaway 2.0
2 years ago

Every year is a “weak” draft for OL and yet other NFL teams find NFL caliber starters. Maybe the Bucs need better scouts?

2 years ago

PFF is reporting that Greedy Williams issues are 100% off the field. He had zero visits with NFL teams and bad combine interviews.

That makes sense and anyone who scouted Greedy could see on the field he was the top CB prospect in the draft. Scott Reynolds hasn’t a clue . Greedy freelancing? Good for a laugh Scott. Greedy is one of the most disciplined corners Ive ever seen. Truly amateur hour in the greedy analysis there SR

2 years ago

I know I am dating myself, but …. When I was a kid back in the 50s (yes it’s true), Kool-Aid was a packet of sugar and flavoring that you added to water and ice for the kids on a hot summer afternoon. If the kids weren’t outdoors playing it would have been a disaster to give it to them. They would have almost literally been bouncing off the walls and ceilings after drinking it. (Today we have “energy drinks” for just about all ages apparently. ) By the mid to late 60s there was something called “Electric Kool-Aid” that… Read more »

2 years ago

Hey everyone,

Bob is so well informed and talented at reading players that he knows the future and White won’t perform at a high level until 2020.

2 years ago

Completely agree with this take. Haven’t been this excited in years about a draft pick. And that was before I saw him interviewed post draft and press conference, I thought the same, he carries himself EXACTLY like Brooks. He’s going to resurrect this defense.

2 years ago

I think we should just wait and see how everything pans out. They addressed most of our needs in the draft, whether you like or think the picks were high enough or not. I feel like DB were needed more than DL, especially after taking a DT high last year. We were last in coverage last season, but not sacks or DL play…which is why we drafted the way we did. We still took a DL that I’ve seen the “experts” tag as a possible steal in the DE from Iowa, and we know that Licht can at least be… Read more »

Erik Jager
2 years ago

Allen or White? Allen could be an elite pass rusher, and White could be a Hardy Nickerson clone. The Buccaneers fixed their pass rushing needs for the very short time. White will help in all phases of the defense. Their run defense sucked last year. Other teams were in where good positions such as 2nd and 5 yards to go after a simple run with poor tackling. White can defend the pass and cover Te or Rbs in coverage. White’ s BIGGEST value is his field generalship. Nickerson was the silent key to Dungy’s defense. Greedy’s tackling skills were seen… Read more »

2 years ago

@senile senior: Do kids even go outside anymore? I too grew up in the 50’s-60’s (in SW Pennsylvania). We drank Kool Aid as a treat while staining our white tee shirts, ate full size Clark bars, munched on Twinkies and slurped down grape Nehi. But we also ate our Wheaties in the morning, wore PF Flyers to make us run our fastest and jump our highest throughout the day, had a balanced supper at the table with our family, watched Leave it to Beaver, brushed our teeth with Ipana toothpaste and by that time we were ready for bed. All… Read more »

2 years ago

Scott your candor as to your misses on the ability of some past drafted players reveals that you are not egotistical! I would have taken Mississippi’s LT over Risner, but I believe Cappa will be developed as Dotson’s successor. I am happy with how the draft played out for the Bucs. Liedtke or BA’s former Guard can probably take over and do well at RT. I also believe BA will get his power blocking system going too this year and Jones then can make you forget Henderson. We also need to get Vea playing FB on short yardage and Ogunbowale… Read more »

2 years ago

Scubog, wow.

Ipana …. “Brusha, brusha, brusha … It’s dandy for your teeth!”

Wheaties, “The Breakfast of Champions!”

I grew up in central Illinois.

Back to the present …. Go Bucs!!!!

2 years ago

GoldsonAges, Greedy was one of the most disciplined corners you’ve ever seen? Then maybe you should watch some more CB’s, because apparently you haven’t seen many. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that he’s a very unwilling tackler. On a team with a secondary as bad as we have, having a CB who doesn’t want to tackle back there is a bad pick. I’ll take Bunting over Greedy all day

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