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The Back Bone

The one thing that Tampa was known for is defense, mainly the Tampa 2. Monte Kiffin and Tony Dungy building a defense that would eventually lead to the Bucs first and only Super Bowl. Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, and Ronde Barber highlighted the Bucs defense for years and were the faces of the team and defense. Besides Mike Alstott, if you asked people outside of Tampa, they would mention those defensive names. Fast forward to 2010 with the 3rd overall pick the Bucs selected Gerald McCoy, the new face of the franchise and defense. McCoy has been the steady piece of the defense for the last nine years. He is a six-time pro bowler, but it appears his time here coming to an end barring a financial miracle. So, who will step into that leadership position and be the face of the defense? Lavonte David.

In the second round of the 2012 NFL draft and with the 58th pick, the Bucs selected the talented linebacker from the University of Nebraska. David has brought speed and toughness to the linebacker position since he has been in Tampa. He has been a solid piece in the Tampa defense that has not been good for many years. With McCoy on the d-line and Kwon Alexander and Kendall Beckwith (periodically.) He is an all-pro linebacker and a pro-bowler as well. He can rush the passer, tackle the running backs that are dominating the NFC South and NFL, and is beneficial in the passing game as well. Except for JPP, he has the most experience on the defense currently, with GMAC more than likely out of the picture.

The Bucs again are at the top of the NFL draft again this year, and presumably, are going to take a young defensive talent. Whether it is Devin White to pair with David or an edge rusher to pair with JPP, they will be a vital piece into transforming the defense into a championship defense again. To help that piece blend in and grow, Lavonte will be a pivotal part of their growth on the team. With switching to the 3-4 defense, David is more than likely going to be playing the inside linebacker role and will be the quarterback of the defense. He will be making sure that everyone is in the right spot and position, regardless of if they are a veteran or rookie.

Not every leader needs to be vocal, but rather they can lead by example. This is what Lavonte David has done. Like Brooks, Sapp, Barber, and Lynch, who came on to a bad team and developed into a championship defense, David is a key piece of a defense that is trying to take the next step and be great as the defense of the past.

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