'A Derrick Brooks clone'

At least that's how one agent said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking at this Virginia Tech linebacker at the Senior Bowl. Find out what makes this all-American such an intriguing prospect to the Buccaneers in this premium article.

When the conversation turned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Virginia Tech linebacker Xavier Adibi's expression found its way to a smile.

The Stillwater, Okla., native loves to play weak side linebacker in the Hokies' Cover 2 scheme, which means he's spent a lot of time on Sundays watching players like future Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks play the position.

The all-American linebacker had a meeting with the Bucs on Tuesday night at the Renaissance Hotel in Mobile, Ala., as part of Senior Bowl festivities. Adibi spent the meeting huddled with a Bucs scout in a secluded hallway.

But an agent with knowledge of the conversation made no bones about how the Buccaneers view Adibi, who weighs in right now at 6-foot-2, 219 pounds.

"The Bucs see him as a Derrick Brooks clone," the agent said. "They love his speed and the way he covers the field."

Adibi said his meeting with the Buccaneers went well.

"I've been a big Bucs fan," Adibi said. "I enjoy watching them play. They're similar to our Cover 2 at Virginia Tech, and we do a lot of zone blitzing, too."

Right now Adibi is pegged as a first-round pick by most scouts, and after watching him practice at the Senior Bowl for two days it's easy to see why.

He runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and the speed translates well to pursuing ball carriers from the weak side. He's shown this week that he has the instinct to sniff out and blow up plays. Ask West Virginia running back Owen Schmitt, who met with and lost to Adibi in the hole during Tuesday's workout.

Adibi looked smooth in pass coverage and on Wednesday easily kept up with one of the North team's faster players, Cal running back Justin Forsett, in coverage out in the flat. He wrapped up Forsett before the back could even turn upfield.

He admitted that his ability to read run and pass plays has taken a turn this year and that the game is slowing down for him. He's also shown versatility this week by taking on practice time at both the middle linebacker and strong side linebacker positions, thanks to other players being banged up.

But he definitely sees himself as a weak side linebacker in the NFL. And he sees himself as a pretty good fit for the Buccaneers.

"I just like the fact that they want the defense to fly around all the time," Adibi said. "You can sit back and read the quarterback's eyes and then break and have chances to make plays."

Adibi finished off his senior season with 108 tackles (12 for loss) and 3 sacks. He also turned in personal bests of 390 pounds on the bench press and 500 pounds on the back squat during fall testing.

So why is he only at 219 pounds? Well, Adibi suffered from a flu bug a couple of weeks ago and his weight isn't where he wants it to be. But he said by the Combine he should be back up to his normal playing weight. That's listed at 220 pounds on some draft sites, but most NFL teams would probably like to see Adibi get closer to 230 pounds.

"I'm going to be hitting the weight room when I get back to Arizona (where he is training) and get it back to where it needs to be," Adibi said.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.


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