Written by: Brett J. Pietrzak – Vice President (@BPietrzak01)
Over the next weeks, I will be breaking down the best player in the National Football League who are not getting the recognition they deserve.
Lavonte David has proven himself to be one of the most durable, versatile, and reliable linebackers in the NFL in his five-year career.
In 2011, the Buccaneers were a huge disappointment under head coach Raheem Morris, finishing dead last in the NFC South. This was largely due to the fact that the Bucs’ were void of playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.
In fact, the leading tackler on that atrocious defensive unit was safety Sean Jones. Their best linebacker that year was Mason Foster, who was only able to register 76 takedowns. That type of production is unacceptable for a team that runs Tampa-2, a coverage linebacker-dependent scheme.
Enter Lavonte David, a speedy intelligent, and hardworking 21 year old from the University of Nebraska. Coming into the draft, he was regarded as under-sized and destined for injury problems.
Since being taken #58 overall in the 2012 Draft, David has played in at least 14 games every season. In those seasons, he has registered at least 85 solo tackles a year and a spectacular 139 combined tackles.
In his sophomore season, Lavonte David broke out in a huge way. He started all 16 games and registered 145 tackles, seven sacks, and five interceptions. These numbers led him to being named an NFL 1st Team All-Pro. Last season, David was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.
While they may go unnoticed, linebackers, more specifically coverage linebackers, play an integral role in any defensive scheme. David’s ability to make tackles, cover tight ends, and pressure the quarterback make him one of the NFL’s best. The Buccaneers may fall just short of a playoff berth this season, but building around their superstar linebacker is a recipe for a successful future.