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NFL Draft 2019: A closer look at LSU linebacker Devin White in critical draft for Jason Licht

(Photo by: Anthony Pugliese; Scrum Sports)

With the NFL draft just over 24 hours away, The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will need to select an impact player with the fifth overall pick

For Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht, the 2019 draft will be a defining chapter in his tenure. This will be Licht’s sixth draft as Bucs GM and the importance of a successful first round pick has never been greater. Coming off a disappointing 5-11 season in 2018 and a new coaching regime in place, the 2019 draft will provide Tampa Bay the chance to bring in an NFL ready talent with the fifth pick that can immediately make an impact. Tampa Bay lost former inside linebacker Kwon Alexander to the San Francisco 49ers via free agency. As a result, the Bucs should be looking to replace that key position through the draft in hopes of bolstering the middle of the defensive unit.

With the fifth pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should select Devin White, linebacker, LSU.

White was a 2 year starter for the LSU defense. In his sophomore season, he lead the Southeastern Conference in tackles with 133. Over 3 years in Baton Rouge, White amassed 185 tackles, including 28.5 for a loss and 8.5 sacks. He was a first team All-SEC selection in 2017 and 2018 and was a consensus All-American in 2018. Most impressive of all, he received the 2018 Butkus award which is presented to the nation’s top linebacker. White is also a respected leader and was a permanent team captain at LSU in 2017 and 2018. These achievements are especially impressive with the SEC being considered the most competitive college football conference.

Physically, Devin White has all of the intangibles. He is 6′, 237 pounds and put up a 4.42 40 yard dash number at the NFL combine. With that type of speed, it’s easy to see why he was so successful as a 2 way player in high school, rushing for over 5,000 yards and 81 touchdowns as a running back. His speed, tenacity, and awareness make him an extremely disruptive player against both the pass and the run as well as sideline to sideline tackling. The Tampa Bay defense has been lacking a player of this magnitude for far too long. The fit is almost perfect and if White is available Tampa Bay simply cannot pass on him.

Offenses have had their way with the Bucs’ defense over the last few seasons.

In 2018, the Tampa Bay defense was ranked 26th against the pass and 24th against the run. They allowed a combined average of 383 yards per game. The year prior, the defense was dead last in the NFL against the pass and total yards allowed per game. If the team expects to change course, they must focus on the linebackers unit. In recent years, the Bucs have failed to generate a consistent pass rush. Getting to the quarterback and disrupting the rhythm of opposing offenses should be a focal point for 2019. Because of this, the middle linebacker position must be considered a top priority. Selecting an explosive, disruptive, intelligent player for that position is imperative. Devin White has all the makings of that explosive player and, if available, should hear his name called by Roger Goodell as Tampa Bay’s selection in the first round of the NFL Draft.



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