The linebacking corps for the 2016 Tampa Bay Buccaneers was deep and versatile. They were a nice mix of experienced talent and youthful potential.
How the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Linebackers Measure Up Among the NFL’s Best
Daryl Smith kept chugging along at age 34 in his first season with the Buccaneers. Although the nine-year veteran posted career lows with 28 tackles and seven assisted tackles, Smith still posted an approximate value of six according to Pro Football Reference. Smith appeared in all 16 games and started in 12. Six is still the lowest approximate value Smith has posted in a season aside from 2012 when he played just two games for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jude Adjei-Barimah was the solid extra linebacker for the Buccaneers in his second season with the team after spending his first season as a corner back in seven starts. He had 22 tackles, which was one more than starting defensive end Robert Ayers, and two sacks in 10 games.
Glanton played in 16 games and had eight tackles in his second season with Tampa Bay, after one with the Carolina Panthers. Lynch and Jones played in 12 and eight games respectively. Lynch played as a rookie with the St. Louis Rams in 2015. Jones has spent two seasons with Tampa Bay and was a defensive end as a rookie.
According to Pro Football Focus, David and Alexander’s strength was in pass coverage. With the struggles of Vernon Hargreaves and Chris Conte, David and Alexander were able to assist Brent Grimes and Bradley McDougald.
David and Alexander are one of the best linebacking duos in the NFL and here’s where they rank.
The Best Linebackers In The NFL
- Bobby Wagner has established himself as the backbone of the Seattle Seahawks defense. He led the NFL with 82 assisted tackles and had an approximate value of 17.
- Von Miller set a career high with 62 tackles and had 13.5 sacks and posted an approximate value of 17 for the third time in his career. Miller is already a Hall of Famer with the Denver Broncos.
- Sean Lee set a career high with 93 tackles and an approximate value 16. Lee proved what he could do when healthy in 15 games with the Dallas Cowboys.
- Dont’a Hightower had just 31 tackles, but he had an approximate value of 14 with the New England Patriots. Hightower also had a significant forced fumble against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl.
- Whitney Mercilus set career highs with 36 tackles, four fumble recoveries with an approximate value of 13. He also had three sacks in two playoff games for the Houston Texans.
- Lavonte David had just 67 tackles after averaging 101 in his first four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But he had an approximate value of 13 from five sacks, an interception returned for a touchdown and four forced fumbles.
- C.J. Mosley surprisingly had just 56 tackles and 36 assisted tackles but had an approximate value of 13 because of four interceptions with the Baltimore Ravens.
- Alec Olgetree set career highs with 98 tackles and 38 assisted tackles and had two interceptions along with 11 passes defended for the Los Angeles Rams.
- Benardrick McKinney lived up to the potential he flashed in 2015 and had 79 tackles with five sacks in 16 starts with the Houston Texans.
- Vic Beasley led the NFL with 15.5 sacks and had six forced fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown with the Atlanta Falcons.
- Zach Brown had a breakout season in his first season with the Buffalo Bills with 97 tackles and four sacks.
- K.J. Wright continually gets better with the Seahawks as he set career highs with 54 tackle assists and four sacks.
- Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers shows no signs of slowing down at age 33 with 73 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, one which was returned for a touchdown.
- Brian Orakpo, in his second season with the Tennessee Titans, posted the highest approximate value of his career at 11 with 10.5 sacks.
- Luke Kuechly is still the most talented linebacker in the NFL, but his concussions the last two seasons leave some doubt about his future with the Panthers.
- Ryan Kerrigan continues to be the most consistent pass rushing linebacker for the Washington Redskins with 11 sacks. He’s had at least seven sacks every year.
- Ryan Shazier added three interceptions and nine passes defended to his identical season of 55 tackles, 32 assisted tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2015. Shazier also had two interceptions in the postseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- Anthony Barr was a controversial player for the Minnesota Vikings, but set career highs with 33 assisted tackles and an approximate value of 10.
- Telvin Smith had 98 tackles in his third season with the Jacksonville Jaguars after 99 tackles in 2015.
- Kwon Alexander led the NFL with 108 tackles after just 59 as a rookie with the Buccaneers.
- Lawrence Timmons had 78 tackles in his tenth season with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has made 16 starts in six consecutive seasons. Timmons had his best postseason with Pittsburgh in 2016.
- Jamie Collins has had better seasons, but he ended up with 79 tackles between the New England Patriots and the Cleveland Browns.
- Jordan Hicks in his second season with Philadelphia Eagles led all linebackers with five interceptions and had 11 passes defended.
- Eric Kendricks made his mark for the Vikings in pass coverage with nine passes defended and had a 77-yard interception returned for a touchdown.
- Avery Williamson set a career high with 73 tackles in his third season with the Titans.
- Paul Posluszny of the Jaguars continues to fulfill his role as a tackling machine with 97 tackles, the fifth time he’s had at least 90 tackles in a season.
- Nigel Bradham had a career high 67 tackles in his first season with the Eagles after four seasons with the Bills
- Kevin Minter was one reason for the Arizona Cardinals’ elite pass rush as he had 3.5 sacks as a linebacker in their 3-4 scheme.
- Terrell Suggs responded impressively at age 34 after suffering a torn Achilles in 2015. Suggs’ eight sacks were vital to a Ravens’ defense geared towards stopping the run.
- Lorenzo Alexander, in his first full season as a starting linebacker with the Bills, posted 50 tackles, 12.5 sacks and three forced fumbles and earned a spot on the Associated Press’ second team.