Kwon Alexander was a fourth round pick turned week one starter for the Buccaneers in 2015. He may also be the most likely to take over this defense.
It surprised many when Kwon Alexander, a fourth round pick out of LSU, unseated free agent signee Bruce Carter to become the Buccaneers’ week one starter at the middle linebacker position. For all the things Bucs fans blame on Lovie Smith, there’s one thing that guy did know while in Tampa Bay and that was linebackers. Alexander’s sheer speed and athletic ability made him an instant contender in training camp to break into the starting lineup. His knowledge, work ethic, and natural playmaking ability made him a starter. His off-field heartbreak, highlight plays, and obvious leadership abilities made him a fan favorite.
But what should Bucs fans expect from Kwon in 2016? Quite simply; an even better player.
Now, with the addition of Mike Smith at defensive coordinator and Alexander being a year removed from his rookie season, Alexander is chomping at the bit to get back on the field. As many of you may remember, Alexander missed the last four games of the season due to a suspension for PED’s, something he said came from drinking an energy drink and not being cautious about what was being put into his body. That’s a mistake Alexander vowed would never happen again.
When media members ask him about playing for Smith and his new defense, you get the sense that he’s more excited than he was his rookie year. The situations he will be put in, created for him to be successful, are more than enough to get Alexander pumped;
"“Mike Smith brings a lot of energy. He’s a very good coach. The defense is running; it’s going to be a real good defense. Everybody’s excited about it and we can’t wait to get on the field. [The scheme is] aggressive. It’s a scheme that you can go out there and have fun and make plays. Very different – a lot of schemes. I love it though. I love it. We all love it. We’re going to have fun with the defense. I feel like everybody’s going to be out there flying around. I just can’t wait to get back on the field. It’s going to be more aggressive. You guys can just see it for yourselves. You just have to be ready for this season. It’s going to be fun. Y’all are going to enjoy it, for real.”"
See, Kwon strives for greatness. He and Lavonte David have the potential to be the best linebacker duo in the NFL, but it takes work. That isn’t something Alexander is going to shy away from. That’s why he reached out the Derrick Brooks, Buccaneers’ legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer, to try to learn any and everything he can to improve for next season. Unfortunately, the two haven’t been able to meet up quite yet;
"“I haven’t gotten the chance yet, I’m trying to schedule a meeting next week. I’m just trying to pick his brain. He’s a Hall of Famer, so that’s where I want to be one day so I’m trying to get everything – whatever he gives me, I’m going to take it all in and help my teammates, too. So everything he gives me, I’m just going to go out there and use it against everybody else. Me and my teammates, too”"
Kwon Alexander is one of the most exciting young players on this team and has all the tools and charisma to be the “Jameis Winston” of the defense. Not to take anything away from Lavonte or Gerald McCoy, but they’re more of the Derrick Brooks type; quiet, lead by example guys. Kwon? He’s from that Warren Sapp mold. He’s already a vocal leader, and will get louder and more boisterous as time passes. And that is something this Bucs team desperately needs. They need that swagger, that cockiness. Kwon brought that last year, and we may just see Hargreaves and Spence add a little more on this year.
Alexander is out to prove himself this year. Like any other player, he wants to be the best at his position. Be named All-Pro, go to Pro Bowls, win championships. His talent, determination, and drive are there and have him well on his way. And once he and Brooks finally get that one-on-one session?
Well, once that happens all we can say is the rest of the NFL better be on notice because Kwon Alexander will officially be unstoppable.