View some of the top photos of LB Kendell Beckwith from the 2017 season.
The Buccaneers ended up asking a lot out of rookie linebacker Kendell Beckwith right out of the gate. He made his first NFL start during the Bucs' first game of the season at home against the Chicago Bears. But he would become more valuable in the coming weeks with injuries to linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David clearing the way for the LSU-product to get more production.
Beckwith registered five tackles, all of which were solo, and broke up a pass in his first game as a professional football player against the Bears. A third-round pick (107th overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft, his upside and overall value was apparent from the jump.
Beckwith was then asked to take over the inside 'Mike' linebacker position – wearing the radio helmet and calling the defense in both Alexander and David's absences early in the season. His production continually increased until the Bucs got David back against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6. In a three-week stretch between Weeks 3-5, Beckwith registered combined tackle totals of eight, nine and 14, respectively. His 14-tackle performance came in primetime at home against the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football in Week 5, where he led the defense against quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots' high-powered offense. It was the most tackles by a Buccaneers rookie since 2012, when Lavonte David did it against Oakland.
Beckwith played in all 16 games this season and with just nine starts, he finished the year right behind David and Alexander in number of solo tackles with 60, good for fourth-most on the team. He also tied Alexander in tackles-for-loss with seven, good for second-best among Bucs linebackers and third-most on the team. Oh, and Alexander's stats got him into the Pro Bowl this year.
Not only was Beckwith a standout on the Bucs' defense, he was a standout league-wide. His 60 solo tackles are the second-most of any rookie linebacker last season. His number-two spot is sandwiched between two first-round picks in Detroit's Jarrad Davis and San Francisco's Rueben Foster. In fact, he's the only player in the top 5 that didn't go in the first or second rounds, pointing to the fact that tight end O.J. Howard wasn't the only steal the Bucs ended up with from the 2017 draft class.
The Buccaneers' first matchup with the New Orleans Saints was something of a homecoming for Beckwith, who not only went to LSU, but is a Louisiana-native and grew up outside Baton Rouge. In fact, the only NFL game Beckwith had ever been to prior to playing in one was the Buccaneers vs. Saints game played in Baton Rouge in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. Playing against the Saints in 2017, there were now a lot of Beckwith jerseys in the stands in New Orleans.
Beckwith finished the season with 73 tackles, 60 of which were solo, 1.0 sack, one forced fumble and two passes defensed. In addition to the stats, he provided an intangible amount of support early in the season for one of the Bucs' best defensive units.