The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a promising group of linebackers, led by weak-side linebacker Lavonte David, who has been playing at an All-Pro level this season. It remains to be seen if David will be able to crack the All-Pro list, but he’s definitely on track and is entrenched as one of the league’s best all-around linebackers. Not only does David do a really nice job of stopping the run, but he’s also a solid pass rusher and excels in coverage. Pass rushing at the OLB position is put at a premium in the 3-4 scheme, but David is a 4-3 outside linebacker who brings some nice skills as a pass rusher to the table.
Overall, David is a very disruptive presence on the Buccaneers defense, and that’s evident when you look at the sheer number of tackles for loss he’s had. According to Advanced NFL Stats, David leads all linebackers with 15 tackles for loss so far this season, and that definitely isn’t a total to sneeze at. He’s done a solid job of putting pressure on the quarterback and has some sacks (nine total QB hits), but where he really makes a difference is racking up tackles for loss in the running game.
There is little doubt that David is already one of the best linebackers in the game, and he’s made play after play this season. One thing that really stands out to me with David is his ability to cover, and I think that gets overlooked for a couple of reasons. Firstly, linebackers don’t usually get noticed in coverage unless if they struggle in coverage (ie Brandon Spikes). But another reason why David’s accomplishments as a coverage WLB go overlooked is that David is such a great run defender that it overshadows his play in coverage. Most LBs who are as adept as David at making plays against opposing backs aren’t usually as good as he is in coverage, but he has a solid seven passes defended and three interceptions to his credit this season.