Pro Football Focus recognized the Buccaneers’ Kwon Alexander as one of the NFL’s most improved defensive players.
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Buccaneers fans far and wide know how good they have it with Kwon Alexander. I mean, it’s not often that a fourth round pick steps into the lineup, becomes the quarterback of the defense, and excels. That is exactly what Alexander did.
If it hadn’t been for the drug suspension, he would have posted over 100 tackles in this first two seasons. As it turned out he posted 93 in his rookie year and 145 last season.
All in all, these are pretty solid numbers.
Finally, others around the league are starting to take notice of what we already know. Pro Football Focus recently did an analysis, based on their grading system, of the most improved defensive players from 2015 to 2016. Guess who was the third-most improved linebacker? Kwon Alexander:
"Alexander’s rookie season in 2015 was a letdown. He was thrown into the fire as a fourth-round selection, making 12 starts before serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy. While he flashed a bit as a pass-rusher, he was ineffective both in run defense and in coverage. His tackling efficiency played a large part in his disappointing rookie campaign. Alexander was among the worst in the league (67th of 69 ILBs) bringing down the ball carrier, missing a tackle for every 4.3 made. In 2016, he made a significant leap forward by cleaning up his tackling (7.3 tackling efficiency)."
I am certain that none of us will agree that he was a disappointment as a rookie. For what it’s worth, PFF did, grading him at 31.6. That makes his improvement to 77.3 last year a large one.
Some of the most interesting work that Pro Football Focus does is with advanced metrics. They compile stats that the networks, and other mainstream venues, just don’t. One of those numbers used for defensive players is “tackling efficiency”. It’s the amount of tackles completed for every missed tackle. PFF employees and researchers are relentless in their compilation of stats, and this is one advanced way they are able to value defensive players.
As mentioned in the quote above, Alexander missed one tackle for every 4.3 in his rookie year. That number jumped to 7.3 in 2016. In other words, he made three more tackles for every missed tackle in his second season. Whether you are a fan of the PFF grading system or not, that statistic alone is a strong indicator how much Kwon really has improved.
It’s about time our players started to receive recognition. It may not be the ultimate recognition, the Lombardi trophy, but it means that the Bucs are finally starting to get attention.