Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander lit up the field last year as a rookie, and even from the preseason, Alexander had left excellent impressions on the Tampa coaching staff. The former fourth-round pick finished his rookie campaign with 93 tackles, two interceptions and three sacks, despite being suspended four games for a PED violation. Now, in his sophomore season, Alexander looks to continue his successful play and help the Bucs potentially reach a playoff spot come this postseason.
With improvements made along the entire starting defensive roster, Bucs fans should expect Kwon Alexander's strong play at linebacker to only improve from here on out. Bucs OLB Lavonte David, one of the most talented linebackers in the league will continue to be a fantastic mentor for young Alexander both now and in the years to come. A veteran addition to the secondary like Brent Grimes should also elevate the play of the Bucs' defense as a whole, and in turn place Alexander and the rest of his linebacking corps in better playmaking scenarios. New draftees trying to find their place in the Bucs defense like Vernon Hargreaves, Devante Bond, Noah Spence and Ryan Smith will likely look to seasoned players on the team such as Alexander for guidance, which can improve his leadership abilities and motivate him to constantly increase his own level of play.
Dirk Koetter's hire of Mike Smith as defensive coordinator will also assist in nurturing Alexander as a player, and Smith's 4-3 defensive scheme will rely heavily on Alexander's and Lavonte David's abilities to lock down the middle of the field. Smith has also gone on record as saying the new and improved Bucs defense will be "flexible" despite being 4-3 based, leaving a golden opportunity for Alexander to showcase both his uniqueness as a linebacker and his ability to adapt in different coverages.
“Aggressive," Alexander said of the Bucs new defensive scheme. "It’s a scheme that you can go out there and have fun and make plays.”
Kwon's drive to conquer adversity is one of the biggest reasons that I think he will shine yet again in this upcoming season. After his brother passed just days before Week 8 of last season, in that Sunday's game Alexander racked up 11 tackles, forced a Julio Jones fumble and had one interception, a jaw-dropping stat line that helped quantify his desire to overcome. As insurmountable pressure will be on his shoulders this season to take his place as a key leader on this Bucs defense, the way in which Alexander has performed in the midst of trials, coupled with changes made organization-wide should leave him primed for success in 2016.
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