For many fans, the 2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ season did not hold many memorable moments. That especially holds true when thinking about linebacker Lavonte David.
Even though he was named NFC defensive player of the week after his stellar performance against the Detroit Lions, David’s’ most remembered moment of the season goes all the way back to week one when he hit New York Jets’ rookie quarterback Geno Smith in the last minute of the game.
Smith was running out of bounds to stop the clock and David laid into him, which brought on the late hit call and in turn set up the Jets to kick the game winning field goal.
That play was, if nothing else, an omen of what was to come for Tampa Bay fans in 2013.
Many people however fail to see the other things that David did for the team in 2013. Like stated above, his performance in week 12 against the Lions earned him NFC defensive player of the week. David also had an outstanding stat sheet for the 2013 season and when compared to his stats in 2012, the now third year pro has improved greatly since being drafted.
David was drafted in the second round, 58th overall pick, of the 2012 NFL draft out of Nebraska, and immediately made an impact on the Bucs roster.
In his first professional game in the NFL, David recorded his first career interception off of Miami quarterback Matt Moore. He also recorded a tackle for loss in the 20-7 preseason win over the Dolphins.
David was immediately handed a lot of responsibility, and as a starter at weak side linebacker, David led the team with six tackles in the 16-10 week one win over the Carolina Panthers.
He continued impressing coaches and fans as he earned Defensive Rookie of the Month of November after accumulating a league-leading 47 tackles in four games. His biggest performance in November was in week nine against the Oakland Raiders where he amassed a total of 16 tackles. Then in week ten, Lavonte racked up 14 tackles against the San Diego Chargers.
David is the only Buccaneer player to earn the honor of Defensive Rookie of the Month in the Franchise’s history.
Lavonte’s final stats for the 2012 season were impressive as he started all 16 games and recorded 139 total tackles, two sacks, five defended passes, one interception and David hit the opposing quarterback five times. David also had 20 tackles-for-loss, which is the most by a rookie since Kendrell Bell did it in 2001.
Now even though Lavonte’s 2013 season seemed to be summarized by the late hit on Smith, his stats were very impressive.
Lavonte’s stats were outstanding as he recorded 145 total tackles, seven sacks, ten passes defended, five interceptions, and he hit opposing quarterback 13 times. David was also named to the First-Team All-Pro roster, but somehow missed out on making the Pro Bowl team.
David finished the 2013 season as one of only two players in the history of the NFL to record 100 tackles, six sacks and five interceptions in a season. The other player was safety Rodney Harrison.
Heading into the 2014, new head coach Lovie Smith has compared David to Bucs legend Derrick Brooks.
“There’s not a lot of players like Derrick Brooks, it’s not even fair to compare some guys in that way,” Smith said. “But, Lavonte David, he has a chance. He’s that younger version coming up. I hear he’s a great guy.”
That is a huge statement to make, but I can agree with Smith. Watch for Lavonte to further improve his stats in 2014, and becoming a keystone in the Bucs defense. If David can stay healthy and with the new talent that has been brought in this off-season, David is a shoe in for the Pro Bowl and many other awards.