Mark Dominik sits in the War Room with a big decision. The first round was easier. Claiborne was the obvious pick. He was an obvious need. The second round is different. The team has several needs. The words of former head coach Raheem Morris seem to echo in his mind: "This team needs to be more explosive on offense." And yet, Dominik thinks: "We're missing something on defense. We've been missing something for a while." The decision comes down to two positions: Running Back and Linebacker. Doug Martin from Boise State is sitting out there. He's arguably the second best running back in this year's draft. He'd be a great pairing with LeGarrette Blount and would give Josh Freeman more security in the backfield. Then the words of BucsNation member RookTakesYou run through Dominik's brain: "Voted for Lavonte David because I think that quality linebackers will end up going much faster than quality RBs in round two." (Because obviously team general manager's always read SBNation blogs.)
And with that, we have our pick: Lavonte David, OLB from Nebraska.
In perusing the various scouting reports on David, they all mention the same things: Speed, quickness, agility, motor, solid tackler, and great in coverage. He fits in perfectly as a weak-side linebacker in a 4-3 style defense. He's got the range and closing ability to cover running backs and tight-ends. He can play the pass and the run. Possibly the greatest compliment paid to him is that he's been compared to the last great Tampa Bay linebacker... the legend that is Derrick Brooks. And this is what Tampa's been missing for several years now. They've been missing Derrick Brooks. Now they have a chance to draft a player that can finally replace him.
David has his weaknesses though. His most glaring weakness is his size. At 6'1", 225 pounds, David is not quite as big as most teams would like. It's the only reason he slipped to the 2nd round of the draft. He's got shorter arms and smaller hands than what is considered ideal. Yet, he plays through this and doesn't believe it's a detriment to his ability. He might struggle, but he's going to play through it and he's going to make the play. That's just the kind of guy, Lavonte David is. In 2011, he made play after play, but none was probably bigger than the strip fumble recovery against Ohio State that ‘saved the season.' Down by 21 points in the second half, David killed a Ohio State drive by simply reaching out and taking the football away from the quarterback as he was spinning toward the ground on a 1st down run. The Huskers went on to win that game 34-27.
Lavonte David will be a huge asset to the Tampa Bay defense. He'll make the team better on special teams as well. There might be a few other linebackers still available that could be argued to be a better fit or as good a fit as David. But David is the right call. He's smart, he's opportunist, and he plays with passion. This guy IS everything you want in a football player.
And for your viewing pleasure: The Comeback.
The Comeback - Nebraska Vs. Ohio State 2011 (via AdrenalineRush420)
Previously (with approval results)...
9. Carolina Panthers - South Carolina LB/DE Melvin Ingram (Forgot to do a poll)
36. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Nebraska LB Lavonte David