Bucs’ state of the union: The linebackers

by Gary Shelton on June 6, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Alexander made the Pro Bowl last. year./CARMEN MANDATO

Alexander made the Pro Bowl last. year./CARMEN MANDATO

Wednesday, 3 a.m.

The name of the position rolls off of your tongue.

Say it, and the faces of the men who have played it pop into your head.

Linebacker.

Is there are a more romanticized position among the defenders of the National Football League. As a group, they are large, but not too large. They are fast. They are smart.

And they are vicious.

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For the Tampa Bay Bucs, it is the most settled position on defense. Even with all of the improvements, you can wonder whether the Bucs will get enough of a pass rush, and you can wonder if they will cover tightly enough. But linebacker? Yeah, you can depend on those guys, can't you?

Kwon Alexander? Lavonte David? Even Kendall Beckwith, who is recovering from an auto accident. They are the dependable. They are the guys you can count on.

Aren't they?

On the Bucs, you could have a heated argument over whether Alexander has surpassed David as the Bucs' lead linebacker. Each of them have made one Pro Bowl. Last year, David had three more tackles than Alexander.

For the Bucs, it has often been that way. There are those who would argue that Derrick Brooks is the finest player ever to play for the Bucs; certainly, he's in the conversation. Hardy Nickerson was a fine linebacker. Batman Wood was an early star.Oh, sure. You can argue that the current crop of linebackers have flaws. Maybe David could rush the passer better. Maybe Alexander could be better in the hole. But if you're talking about stablity, they're a good place to start.

The backups aren't terrible either: Not with Adarius Taylor, Devante Bond and Cameron Lynch. Then there are Riley Bulloch (Joe Dirt from Hard Knocks) and draftee Jack Cichy.

Oh, there are different kinds of linebackers, to be sure. Dick Butkus was an angry plugger. He was an anchor when stopping the run was the primary objective. Lawrence Taylor was a pass-rusher. Brooks was a sideline-to-sideline runner.

The Bucs' didn't do much to impove the position in either free agency or the  draft, adding only Cichy. That alone tells you what the team thinks of its crew.

Now that there is more talent in front of them, and more behind them, the hope is that they'll benefit from new friends.

Linebackers

Top Five

1. Derrick Brooks

2. Hardy Nickerson

3. Batman Wood

4. Shelton Quarles

5. Hugh Green

Pro Bowlers

Derrick Brooks (11)

Hardy Nickerson (5)

Hugh Green (2)

Kwon Alexander (1)

Lavonte David (1)

Dave Lewis (1)

Shelton Quarles (1)

Busts

Brad Moritz

Keith McCants

Demetrious DuBose

Broderick Thomas

Keith Browner

Best 10 Ever

1, Lawrence Taylor

2. Ray Lewis

3. Dick Butkus

4. Jack Lambert

5. Willie Lanier

6. Derrick Brooks

7. Ted Hendricks

8. Mike Singletary

9. Derrick Thomas

10.  Jack Ham

Projected sacks

Kwon Alexander      3

Lavonte David         1

Kendall Beckwith.   1

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