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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 The Right Fit For Bucs In Round 1

With the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select … who?

An edge rusher? An interior pass rusher? An offensive lineman?

How about a Pro Bowler?

Because at the end of the day, that’s general manager Jason Licht’s obligation with the team’s first-round pick.

Licht needs to draft Pro Bowlers, and he’s done so twice with wide receiver Mike Evans and quarterback Jameis Winston, who have each made one Pro Bowl since being drafted at No. 7 overall in 2014 and at No. 1 overall in 2015, respectively.

If he can stay healthy, tight end O.J. Howard, the Bucs’ first-rounder in 2017, has the makings of being a Pro Bowler. The jury is still out with Licht’s other first-rounders, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (2016) and defensive tackle Vita Vea (2018).

Who are the potential Pro Bowlers in this year’s draft?

I think Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa, who is regarded as more talented than his brother, Joey, is one, and Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen is another. Both would look great in red and pewter, but will likely be gone by the time Tampa Bay is on the clock at No. 5.

I want to say Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is a potential Pro Bowler, but after just one dominant season at Alabama as a full-time starter I have some reservations. I remember that massive, athletic defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson went first overall in 1994 and that another massive, athletic defensive tackle Darrell Russell went No. 2 overall in 1997 and they had just two Pro Bowls between them.

Is Williams better than former Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, who went No. 17 overall to Washington? Perhaps. Allen has nine sacks through two years with the Redskins, so we’ll see.

Outside of those three, the only other defender I feel rock solid about with regards to being a Pro Bowler is LSU linebacker Devin White, who was featured as Tampa Bay’s selection in PewterReport.com’s first two 2019 Bucs’ 6-Round Mock Drafts.

I also feel comfortable about Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat, and Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver – although I like him better than the Bucs do from what I’ve heard.

But there is a reason why we slotted White to the Bucs, and a reason why Tampa Bay just gushed about him in their formal interview with the consensus All-American and Butkus Award winner. He’s special – more special than Sweat or even Oliver.

“It was a great meeting,” White said of meeting with the Bucs’ brass in Indianapolis. “We watched strictly film. They talked about Kwon [Alexander]. He was on the wall. They had pictures on the wall. They had great players on the wall. And I come in and they say, ‘What are you looking for?’ I said, ‘The best player on the team.’”

In White’s mind that was Alexander, who also played linebacker at LSU.

Bucs LB Kwon Alexander – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs LB Kwon Alexander – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“They were telling me I remind them of him,” White said. “I got to be the beast out there. I got to be the energy. And that’s what he brings to that team. And I just told them, ‘Ya’ll got a great pick sitting there at five and if you can put two players there right beside each other? What can an offense do? And I think they really thought about it.”

Alexander, a pending free agent who is coming off a torn ACL, remains unsigned. Tampa Bay is expected to let him test free agency and then have an opportunity to match any offer he gets. Still, there are no assurances that Alexander will return to the Bucs in 2019, and if he does, that he will automatically return to his pre-injury form in his first season back from ACL surgery.

If the Bucs move on from Alexander, you can all but pencil in White with their first-round pick. Yet even if Alexander returns, drafting White in the Top 10 wouldn’t be a waste, either.

The Bucs will be transitioning to a 3-4 defense under Todd Bowles, and the team desperately needs linebackers. Like Alexander, Jack Cichy, the team’s sixth-round pick last year, is also rehabbing a torn ACL. And Kendell Beckwith, the Bucs’ third-round pick in 2017, missed all of last season after suffering a broken ankle in February of 2018 and that injury sounds like it is career-ending.

But the Bucs would be in nickel defense 70 percent of the time, right? And that would mean that Alexander and Lavonte David would be on the field and White, who would be the team’s No. 1 pick, would be on the bench? Keep in mind that Alexander has missed 18 games in his four years in Tampa Bay, and David just turned 29 and has missed five games over the past two seasons due to injury.

By the time White would be in his fifth-year option, David would be 33 years old. It’s time to start thinking about his eventual replacement, and David’s contract only runs through 2020 when he turns 30.

There are some of you reading this that don’t like the idea of drafting a potential rotational linebacker in White. But if the Bucs keep defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, any defensive tackle that gets drafted would be a rotational player, too. The same could be said on the edge where Jason Pierre-Paul and Carl Nassib are the starting rush linebackers/defensive ends.

LSU ILB Devin White
LSU ILB Devin White – Photo by: Getty Images

Perhaps more importantly, this draft is flush with edge rushers and interior defensive linemen through the fourth round. Inside linebacker is one of the thinnest positions in this year’s draft – and White is clearly the best of the bunch.

“It’s very important for me to be the top inside linebacker in this draft,” White said. “I feel I put the work in. You know, I showed it throughout my career and progressed every year. I did it throughout my career on and off the field as far as being a great guy, just having the attitude of going to work every day and leading my team. That was the biggest thing. I was the leader on my team. I was named team captain two years in a two, as a sophomore and junior. So I feel like I put everything together. I came out here and I’m ready to compete. I’ve been doing a lot of formal interviews and I’m knocking them out of the park and doing everything right.”

White, a junior entry, recorded 286 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss, nine passes defensed, 8.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one interception in his three years at LSU. He’s posted at least 123 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, three pass breakups and three sacks in each of the last two seasons.

“I’ve got a high motor and from the minute I step on the field until the clocks says 0:00 – you’re going to get 140 percent out of me,” White said.

In hindsight, was Patrick Willis, who was drafted 11th overall in 2007 by San Francisco, worthy of being drafted at No. 5? Of course – the 6-foot-1, 240-pounder was a seven-time Pro Bowler and a five-time first-team All Pro.

In hindsight, was Ray Lewis, who was drafted 26th overall in 1996 by Baltimore, worthy of being drafted at No. 5? Of course – the 6-foot-1, 240-pounder was a 13-time Pro Bowler, a seven-time first-team All Pro, a two-time Super Bowl champion and a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

White measured 6-foot, 237 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine and blazed a 4.42 time in the 40-yard dash, which was the fastest time for a linebacker this year and one of the fastest times for a linebacker in Combine history. By comparison, Willis ran a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash in Indy before running a 4.37 at his pro day. Lewis ran a 4.58 at his pro day back in 1996.

LSU LB Devin White
LSU LB Devin White – Photo from LSU

“My all-time favorites are Ray Lewis and Patrick Willis,” White said. “I also had the opportunity to speak with Patrick Willis this past weekend. Somebody put up a stat with Patrick Willis’ years at Ole Miss and my two years at LSU and they were very similar. I had him beat in a lot of categories. I posted it on Instagram and tagged him and he reached out. He was like, ‘This is amazing.’ He’s in the College Football Hall of Fame. So I was very stunned and very proud of the amount of work I did.”

White’s college coach, Ed Orgeron, has coached both Lewis from his days at Miami, as well as Willis during their time together at Ole Miss. Orgeron puts White in their company.

“In my opinion, he’s the best linebackers in the country,” Orgeron said. “I’ve been a part of Ray Lewis, I’ve been a part of Patrick Willis, and he’s right in that group. No question, one of the best I’ve ever been a part of, as far as a middle linebacker and I still think he’s going to get better. I think he’s going to have a tremendous pro career.”

There have been 10 inside linebackers that have been drafted in the Top 20 over the past decade, the best of which has been Carolina’s Luke Kuechley, who was selected ninth overall in 2012 and has made six Pro Bowls in seven seasons.

Bears LB Roquan Smith – 8th overall – 2018
Bills LB Tremaine Edmunds – 16th – 2018
Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch – 19th overall – 2018
Jets LB Darron Lee – 20th overall – 2016
Steelers LB Ryan Shazier – 15th overall – 2014
Ravens LB CJ Mosley – 17th overall – 2014
Panthers LB Luke Kuechly – 9th overall – 2012
Raiders LB Rolando McClain – 8th overall – 2010
Seahawks LB Aaron Curry – 4th overall – 2009
Texans LB Brian Cushing – 15th overall – 2009

Smith, who ran a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash at last year’s Combine at 225 pounds, was the eighth overall selection last year by Chicago.

“I don’t want to follow his footsteps and be a top 10 pick,” White said. “I want to exceed his footsteps and be a top 5 pick. Our goal, he went No. 8, and all respect to him – he really made this possible for me. He did it, and I’ve got to bring a little more.”

New Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said that Tampa Bay needs to add more speed on defense and White checks that box, in addition to being able to generate tackles for loss and sacks as a blitzer.

LSU LB Devin White
LSU LB Devin White – Photo by: Getty Images

“You always start within your division,” Arians said. “Building your offense or building your defense – especially your defense and stopping the quarterbacks that we have in our division. We have to have pass rushers and man-to-man cover guys, which is a little bit different from the guys that we’ve had. Looking at the division we’re in, we need to play great defense like they did a few years back and put a lot of speed on the field because we are facing a lot of speed.”

They don’t get much faster than the playmaking White, who would bring leadership and playmaking ability to Tampa Bay – in addition to his speed. White is a future Pro Bowler, and that’s what Licht and the Bucs need – whether it’s at No. 5 or perhaps trading down a few spots and still getting him inside the top 10.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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: [email protected]

45 COMMENTS

  1. I just wanted to say thank you for all that read my winning Bucs Offseason Battle Plan. I also wanted to thank Pewter Report staff for voting it the best plan, even if it didn’t get all the 1st place votes.

    https://www.pewterreport.com/forums/topic/reader-submitted-bucs-battle-plan-contest/

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    • It’s a good plan. I don’t agree with all of it- like getting Mosley in FA– but it is quite solid.
      Nice job.
      Enjoy Ford’s Garage.You;ve earned it.

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    • Congrats man

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    • That is a pretty solid plan. I like taking Allen, may be a fan of a few other guys in that slot, but he wouldn’t hurt my feelings. Lindstrom in 2 and Amani in 3, if they’re available at those spots it would be ridiculous not to take them. Overall, your plan beats any of the PR writers. Again I say, solid plan, sombrero. Kudos on winning that gift card, enjoy

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  2. I have no doubt that White would be a great fit for Tampa. I’d like to have him on the team. I just don’t think he’s worth the number five pick. So, the Bucs can overpay for White, pass on him and know he won’t survive until the second round, or–
    They can trade down. I’ve seen White hang around until the mid teens in some mocks. I think he could be there if the Bucs trade down to ten to 15. It’d be white knuckle time in the war room, but the Bucs would have some extra picks. Probably at least an extra second or third. Maybe even an extra first for 2020.
    The risk would be worth it.

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  3. Devin White is the best pick for the Bucs at 5th of all the chips fall where we think, especially if we are losing K. Alexander, gotta have a thumper to replace him and I think Devin White will be an upgrade.

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  4. I think white will be a stud, but not at 5. If we can trade down a few, absolutely take him. There could be some studs that fall. Let’s not pretend a few QBs could go ahead of us and drop one of those studs to us. But there is no way you pass on one of those stud defensive lineman for a linebacker. You could get someone like Devin Bush in the jate first early second if need be.
    As for Bucco bruce, I’ve already stated how much I love that mans swag and how he runs shit. If you dont like his style get out. We need that on this team. As for Smith’s deal, it was a smart move at the price we got. What if he had a really good year? That price wouldve sky rocketed and really put us in a bind.
    Again I’m almost frustrating back if it’s there and make someone pay. However I have seen mocks that have both quinnen William’s and Josh Allen falling to us. You never know, noone though oj would fall to us

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  5. I really like Devon White’s physical style of play, his speed on the field, and his character. The Bucs can’t draft him at #5.

    If the Bucs stand pat at #5 and a few offensive players go in the top 4 (Candidates include Kyler Murray, DK Metcalf, Dwayne Haskins), how the heck do the Bucs pass on Bosa or Allen?

    Even if no offensive players go in the top 4, the Bucs will still have a shot at Rashan Gary or Montez Sweat. Pass rushers are at a premium and as free agents they cost a lot more than linebackers.

    Also, there are very good inside linebackers to be found in later rounds: Notre Dame has two, Alabama has one, Clemson has two. It’s been easy to find value in later rounds at linebacker. Need proof? Look no farther than David, Kwon, Kendall, Bond, Taylor. David was drafted highest. #58 overall.

    I definitely agree that the Bucs need an impact player and future pro bowler at #5. The best way to get players to the pro bowl is to win. Winning starts with defense and getting after Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan. JPP was great last year, but is 31. Nassib was great last year, but is entering his last year on his rookie deal. Spence hasn’t proven anything(good) yet. Rush linebackers/Edge/DE should be the priority with a top 5 pick.

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  6. In a draft with elite talent along the DL and our needs along the DL I think it would crazy to use a top 5 pick on a LB. Bucs might not be high on Ed Oliver but they should be, he would be a terror in this 1 gap scheme that lets him consistently get up field with Vita occupying 2 blockers. Hopefully they are throwing a smoke screen with the White talk but drafting a LB at 5 when you need talent in the trenches would be doing this team a disservice. If you want to tell me they think Jonah Williams/Ford/Juwan can play guard or tackle so they want either of them at 5, I don’t love it but it at least makes sense. Last year they ranted and raved about the Jaguars model of building through the trenches and now here we are doing dumb stuff like ignoring those needs for a LB lol. Arians loves the S/LB hybrids in his defense what about a reunion with Mark Barron. Devin White is not going to force the ball out of QBs hands quicker to help our unproven secondary and he wont open up running lanes for Barber or Jones which have to be top priority this summer. Licht has drafted ZERO Pro Bowl players since Lovie left who controlled those decisions, hasn’t drafted/acquired a OL that was worth the contract/draft pick since Lovie left either and has selected 1 DL with some promise in Vea. FIX THE TRENCHES! As for Donovan it’s a good deal regarding the actual contract because the new coach wont be tied to him for long if this doesn’t work out. Bc as much as I think he’s mediocre I certainly don’t think Licht is capable of replacing him with similar or better production.

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  7. Rotational LB or starter in RT Juwaan Taylor. You start by discussing the importance of getting a pro bowler, then go into how he may just be rotational? Want a pro bowler? Get CJ Mosely.

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    • I love cj but that dude is going to ask for a ton of money that the bucs dont have

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  8. Redskins are definitely in the hunt to move up to get a starting QB, so if they offer the right deal, snap it up. Afterall, the Bu s still need a solid kicke!.
    As for music during practice, that should be something you earn. No tickey no washy.

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    • I don’t think the Skins are drafting a QB in the first round after that Case Keenum trade yesterday

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      • Being that they only gave up a 6th in exchange for Keenum and a 7th, doubt that precludes them from grabbing a QB early. They’re only paying him $3.5M as well since Denver is covering half his salary.

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        • Case “Placeholder” Keenum?

          Exactly correct FLBoy84! That guy is a one year fix to prep the rookie they’re bound to draft.

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  9. Like White as well, just not sure at #5. Would prefer to trade down, even to the mid teens to acquire more picks. Some solid FA options at LB available that might be signed to short term deals to fill in for a year or two as well, or grab Bush or Mack later in the 1st/2nd. With the multitude of needs and the limited available cap space over the next few years, having as many quality players on rookie deals as possible is needed.

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  10. I have every reason to believe that LB Devin White/LSU would make a great pick for the Bucs even at #5. I even have him as my 1st pick in a trade down mock draft, but not at #5. But there are those other than some Buc fans who have reservations. This is the time of year when everybody has an opinion, some dubious. I don’t do film study. I watch highlight tapes like most fans.

    I have no idea if this analyst is legit or just another talking head, but thought his film study deserved some scrutiny. But you gotta be careful, this could be a commercial for the Broncos. Below is his video opinion of drafting Devin White at #5. For your evaluation of both the analyst and White as a day one starter.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dV4t663pPQ

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    • Nice link macabee. The guy who made that video also made one about Quinnen Williams which I found informative as well.

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  11. No absolutely not. White is not a good fit for the Bucs at 5. At 5 it better be Sweat, or if any of Josh Allen, Bosa, Quinnen Williams falls. Or trade down a little and take Greedy/Murphy.

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    • Sweat would be such a disappointment at 5. I’d maybe be okay with at 15, but 5 is just hoping his potential turns out great.

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  12. I think White is the pick at 5, unless Josh Allen or Q falls down. I think in the top 5, like Scott said, you have to go for the guy you know is going to be a day 1 starter and future pro bowler. Don’t take the risk of the flashy player like Sweat or Burns who could turn into a Vic Beasley or Shane Ray and not quite reach their ceiling.

    Also, I think the most important thing for this team in the offseason is to do 3 main things:
    1. Get 2 veteran starting DBs. 1 at corner and 1 at safety. (CB examples McCourty, Claiborne, Desir) (S Amos, Gipson, Cyprien, Weddle)
    2. Get a veteran guard to start next to Dotson. (Iupati, Carpenter, Larson, Lang)
    3. Draft 3 or 4 front 7 defensive players to help with the scheme change.
    I agree with BA this team has the talent and now has the coaching. Let’s make the smart football decisions instead of the flashy ones.

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  13. You wouldn’t use the 5th pick on a L.B. if you knew they would turn out to be Lewis, Brooks, or how about Lawrence Taylor? Why is 5th to high for a L.B.? Remember it’s not about just stopping the Q.B.’s in our division. You better be able to get Kamara, and all the great backs in our division on the ground too. That’s where a great L.B. can help turn this defense around.

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  14. Devin White is a 5th overall pick type of talent the problem is that he doesn’t play a position you spend a 5th overall pick on for a number of reasons:

    1. Like the NBA with 3 point shooting, the NFL has evolved into a high efficiency passing league. Drafting a player who has a marginal role in the passing game is like drafting a back to the basket post-up center in the 3 pt-loving NBA. Sure, the post up player can help your offense, but the teams that are winning championships aren’t doing it because they have that type of player on their team.
    2. Linebacker doesn’t have the same urgency to draft in Rd 1 like DE, LT or QB does. The Bucs have their own experience with Lavonte David (2nd Rd) and Kwon Alexander (4th Rd) performing as well as a 1st round linebacker would. It’s the same argument as why GM’s rarely spend draft capital on kickers. If I can hit on a linebacker in Rd 4 why am I considering spending my top 5 pick on one?
    3. There is a decent statistical evaluation done by a Colts fan that shows that while 1st round players at any position are going to get more playing time (and tackles) that there is reason to hold off on taking one early vs a premium position like DE which has a steeper fall (www.stampedeblue.com/2018/2/15/17010930/nfl-draft-is-there-a-best-round-to-draft-a-linebacker-value-over-replacement-defeats)
    4. Even articles proclaiming the value of LBers to cover RB’s use Deion Jones (2nd Rd) and Telvin Smith (4th Rd) as examples of players who have great value in these roles. So why is a team that has several needs in the secondary, protecting the passer and rushing the passer considering a player who does none of those things at 5? (www.theringer.com/2018/4/12/17227830/draft-linebackers-roquan-smith-deion-jones-alvin-kamara)

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  15. At this point, I’ll be happy with selecting either Williams, Allen, Sweat, Bosa, or White..all those guys could be a game changer that we need.

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    • No sweat! He’s overrated. Workout warrior. Not even close to Bosa or Allen.

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  16. While I understand that people are hesitant for the bucs to draft a lb at 5, I don’t think you could go wrong with selecting White there. If Bosa, Williams, Allen, or Sweat is there..you take one of those guys..if we stay put at 5 and decide not to trade down or just cant find someone to trade down with, I have no problem with selecting white there..I can only imagine that with his speed that he would be all over the field making plays for us.

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  17. What a wasted pick Beckwith was. Having to blow a top 5 pick to replace him…. ugh.

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    • Wasted? He was injured..kind of messed up to say that about something he had no control over.

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      • Actually he did have some control. He let a guy with a suspended license drive his car recklessly and slam it into a gate. So yes he had control over it and he got himself injured. So, yes having to blow a top 5 pick because Beckwith can’t make better decisions stinks.

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        • ahh so you’re one of those perfect human beings, amazing, nice to meet you perfect guy who never makes mistakes.

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          • I would say there’s a difference between making a mistake (something we all do) and making a reckless decision that ends your professional sports career and costs you millions in lost earnings.

            But in the end Beckwith was just living his life. It was 27-53 Jason Licht that wagered a 3rd round pick Beckwith would become a long term starter at MLB. Like most of the Lichtanic’s time here that wager came up snakeyes.

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      • BucRy, I have to believe his statement was made simply to envoke an argument. No way he is that damn ignorant

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  18. Devin White looks like one helluva player, but this team definitely needs massive trench upgrades on both sides. Is anyone having problems with the love being shown to peyton barber? Cause I mean we all watch the dude, we all know he’s not gonna break off those Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson type runs. But he does make the first dude miss quite frequently and he straight up thumps most would be tacklers. Still think we need a compliment change of pace back but think that the chatter of him getting a long term extension with the team is warranted.

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  19. Anyone remember a RB we had briefly, Thomas Jones? Peyton Barber reminds me alot of Thomas Jones…

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  20. Right now I have it Bosa, Allen, White, Oliver, Sweat and Williams in that order.

    If we were to trade down and get White at 7th pick or 10th pick or whatever that would be fantastic! We could still get decent DL and/or OL talent with other picks. Yes, we could address DB and RB too with remaining pick(s) if we had additional picks because of a trade.
    ______________
    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!

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  21. Take white at 5 and never look back! Don’t pass on great player for meadoker ones ! He’s going to be epic!

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  22. I believe that in the top five you have to go with a trench player. I do like White but in a trade down scenario.

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  23. I remember Jones well, Charlie.
    We got him for nothing from the Cardinals and then we rarely used him but when we did he was always effective.
    We let him get away to the Jets where he put up a few 1.000 yard seasons.
    Another fantastic move by Gruden and Allen.

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    • We acquired Thomas Jones via TRADE from the Cardinals for Marquise Walker. Jones rushed for 627 yards 137 carries, scored 3 TD’s and lost 1 fumble. He was in a crowded backfield with Pittman and Alstott and he left via FA in 2004 to the Bears not the Jets. Allen didnt join the team until Jones was gone……..just saying.

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  24. If the Bucs did draft White, would there be anything in his contract about his horse riding? I know that’s his passion, but anyone can get thrown from a horse.

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    • That’s true, horses were even Superman’s kryptonite

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  25. I don’t understand why people don’t like White as a player. White has size and the ability to run sideline to sideline with blazing speed. He hustles to the ball and is always going for the strip. His ability to stack and shed is superior than most PRO NFL LBs in the league. Yeah White has weaknesses but his strengths are off the charts good.

    Am I missing something?

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  26. I like white a lot. But the best player on my board is Q. Williams. He is unblockable at times. If Q is off the board then I’m good with White.

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  27. Sweat is definitely not too 5 and not in my top 10. Be careful getting fooled by his ridiculous 40 time. Watch his tape. He’s good, but not great.

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  28. I like White as the first pick after a trade down. That would also allow us to get a top RG too like Lindstrom. Another great article Scott.

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