Three draft picks, three trades for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so far in 2012. And, just as they did to ensure the addition of Boise State running back Doug Martin on Day One, the Buccaneers have once again moved boldly to make sure they landed their targeted player.
On Friday evening, the Buccaneers used the 58th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft to select Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David, 26 picks into the second round. That was somewhat unexpected, given that the team entered Day Two of the draft without a second-round pick, having traded up the day before to land Martin. Not willing to wait another 10 picks into the top of the third round, however, Buccaneers General Manager engineered his third deal in two days to move up 10 spots and select David.
Due to pick fifth in the third round, 68th overall, Tampa Bay sent pick #126 in the fourth round to the Houston Texans to move up to #58. The Bucs also received a seventh-round pick back in the deal. On Thursday, the Buccaneers traded down with Jacksonville from the fifth overall pick to #7, gaining a fourth-round pick in the process. Later that evening, they swapped that new fourth-rounder with Denver's fourth-round pick in order to move up five spots from #36 (a second-round pick) to #31, the penultimate pick of the first round. The late fourth-round pick obtained in that deal was the one sent to Houston on Friday.
Obviously, the Buccaneers coveted David deeply, and he certainly fills an area of great need. An outside linebacker with outstanding speed and instincts and an innate ability to take the quickest angle to the football, David could battle immediately for a starting outside linebacker spot. One of the team's two OLB starters from 2011, Geno Hayes, has since departed via free agency.
At 6-1 and 233 pounds, David fits the prototype of some of the great Buccaneer linebackers of the past two decades, speedy if somewhat undersized. Of course, the Bucs have a new defensive system under Head Coach Greg Schiano, but General Manager Mark Dominik describes David as a defender who plays bigger than his listed size.
David ran a 4.65-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine and was considered one of the top pass-coverage linebackers in this year's draft class. Given his ability to make plays sideline-to-sideline, many scouts considered him a possible late-first-round selection.
A second-team AP All-America selection last year, David won the Big Ten's Butkus-Fitzgerald Award as the conference's top linebacker. He was also a finalist for the national Butkus Award and a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award. The accolades rolled in after he racked up 133 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions, enough to earn his selection as the Nebraska team MVP in 2011.
Those stats mirrored his 2010 campaign, his first with the Cornhuskers after transferring from Fort Scott Community College. His transition to the top level of college football was seamless, as in two years with Nebraska he started all 27 games and racked up 285 tackles, 28 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks.
David hails from Miami, Florida, where he played at Northwestern High School.