The Bucs will definitely be eyeing the linebackers, and in particular the middle linebackers during Sunday's workouts. With Mason Foster likely moving on to another team during free agency, the Bucs have a need in the middle of their defense.
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The Bucs will be looking for an athletic linebacker with speed that can cover the deep middle of the field when they run the "Tampa 2" defense. This draft seems to be limited at athletic middle linebacker.
Here are some names of players I feel could be a fit for the Bucs at middle linebacker.
Stephone Anthony, Clemson- The athletic Anthony gained some notoriety at the Senior Bowl. Anthony showed off that athleticism at the combine with a sub 4.6 40-yard dash. Anthony is very active on film, I'd just like to see him make some more plays. I view Anthony as a 3rd round selection.
Paul Dawson, TCU- On film, Dawson is a beast. He is a sure tackler, flows all over the field, and is good in coverage. Testing at the combine will make everyone go back to his tape. He ran in the 4.9's for both of his 40-yard dashes. That is not enough speed to succeed at middle linebacker in Lovie Smith's defense.
Ben Heeney, Kansas- Heeney had been an under-the-radar guy, but he ran a 4.62 and displayed the athleticism to be successful in Lovie Smith's defense. Heeney would likely be a later round pick.
Eric Kendricks, UCLA- Kendricks might have solidified his spot as the top middle linebacker in this draft. Kendricks is a linebacker that made a lot of plays in UCLA's defense and displayed his speed and athleticism at the combine. I think he ends up in the 1st round, but could slip to the Bucs at the top of round 2.
Taiwan Jones, Michigan State- Jones is bigger at 6'3'' and 245 lbs. He doesn't possess elite speed (4.81), but I liked his athleticism he displayed in drills at the combine. Jones is likely a later round pick and possibly a target in the 5th round.
Denzel Perryman, Miami- Personally, I love Perryman. I love my middle linebacker being a thumper and emotional leader of my defense and my team. Perryman is exactly that type of linebacker. Unfortunately, he lacks athleticism and speed, which are keep components in Lovie Smith's defense. Some people will try to make a big deal about his height, but he's just one inch shorter than Eric Kendricks. Perryman should be a 10-year starter in the NFL.
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