2019 NFL DRAFT : TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
By Leo Haggerty

When National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell began uttering one of the most notable sentences in sports and that is “With the first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft” overlooking a packed Nashville street, the festivities were beginning.  When he finished the statement with “the Arizona Cardinals select Quarterback Kyler Murray, University of Oklahoma” it was game on for the 32 NFL franchises.

The Bucs had the fifth pick overall and there was some speculation in the media room that they would attempt to trade down to accumulate more picks.  When the four teams above them in the draft all stood pat and took “their” guy, Tampa Bay declined any offers that were on the table to move down and selected Louisiana State University inside linebacker Devin White as “their” guy.

Personally, I give the Buccaneers a strong A- on this pick.  They answered a need, especially if DC Todd Bowles is converting the Pewter Pirates defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4 front, that was the closest to the football.  Also, I believe White is an every-down linebacker who can not only play downhill but has the speed as well as the size to cover NFL backs and tight ends in man coverage schemes.

Totally off the subject but I would be remiss if I didn’t put out accolades to the city of Nashville and the Tennessee Titans.  The showing in Music City was beyond comprehension and their efforts need to be applauded by every media outlet that covers the National Football League. They sure as heck know how to throw a party.

Below are my questions of Buccaneers General Manager Jason Light as well as White himself shortly after he was selected.  Hopefully, you enjoy their answers.

LH : How important was it to you that White has the ability to play hard downhill with strong cover skills?

JL : Very important. You have linebackers that can cover, but don’t play the run that great. You have guys that can play the run that are stuffers that can’t cover that great. He can do both exceptionally well in addition to blitzing, which is an art in itself. You can have a super athletic guy that can run, but he just doesn’t have that knack of getting to the quarterback.  He has that.

LH : Do you believe that White is big enough to cover a tight end and fast enough to cover a running back?

JL : Sure do.

LH : Playing against Alabama and Auburn every year is the closest you will get to palying on Sunday.  How important was it that White played in major college football conferences?

JL : Well, you know the SEC, Big Ten, these major conferences when you have players you feel have exceptional talent and are producing and are productive at a high level.  You tend to want those players more than you would seeing a guy dominate at a small level, so very important, especially in the SEC. It’s where a majority of the first round of the draft comes from.”

LH : Does anything compare to playing in Death Valley on a Saturday night?

DV : Nothing compares to Death Valley on a Saturday night, especially when we’re playing a top-ranked opponent and everybody is filled in with 103,000. Those fans are amazing. They’ll always be amazing. They really love me, so the Buccaneers have new fans that love LSU. LSU loves their players unconditionally, so I just brought a lot of Tiger fans to the state of Florida.

LH : Do you consider yourself to be an every-down linebacker in the NFL?

DCW : I’m looking to be an every-down linebacker. I’m going to player pass coverage, I’m going to play downhill, I’m going to play side-to-side. I’m going to cover everybody. If they need me to cover a tight end, a running back, I can go out there and play a little quarters. Whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do it. If I’m not good at it, I know Coach Caldwell, he played for 11 years. He’s going to help me get to that stage.