Buccaneers: Inside linebacker emerging as preeminent position group

Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

The Buccaneers have plenty of talented position groups, and inside linebacker may take the prize as the best unit.

When one thinks of the best positions for the Buccaneers, the first is usually wide receiver. With Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown rounding out the starters, it’s easy to get caught up in the star power, but there is a case to make that a different position is the biggest strength in Tampa.

The inside linebackers for the Bucs haven’t received their due recognition during their careers, but Devin White and Lavonte David put together a masterclass of a season en route to the Super Bowl last year.

David, who is well on his way to a spot in the Hall of Fame at this rate and who should be the owner of many more All-Pro awards, was predominantly tasked with pass coverage last season. Even the best tight ends and running backs struggled to find space against David, and his status as one of the best backers in the NFL remains unchanged going into 2021.

Devin White has been a huge name since he arrived in the NFL and has never given up the spotlight. His combination of athleticism and ability at rushing the passer makes him the perfect fit in Todd Bowles’ defense alongside David, and together, this pair was a rock in the center of one of the best defensive units in the league.

What makes the Buccaneer ILB room so special is that the group doesn’t stop with David and White. Kevin Minter is a veteran and a consistent producer on special teams that can step in when needed, and the Bucs also added two rookies for special teams roles as well with K.J. Britt and Grant Stuard.

Britt and Stuard have both shown a willingness to contribute and make a home on special teams, which is the one area Tampa needed the most help going into this season.

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Keeping five inside backers may feel like a lot, but the ability of this group to adapt has been one of its biggest strengths in the past, and continuing on this path will only make this unit (or some combination) some of the best contributors on the final roster.

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