Lavonte David entered the NFL as the 58th overall pick in the 2012 draft, taken in the second round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since that time, David might be the most productive defender in the entire NFL, if one considers both the depth and the breadth of a player's stat line.
For instance, David has already forced three fumbles and recovered three fumbles this season, totals that are tied for first and first in the NFL, respectively. But this is nothing new; David has been creating and completing turnovers since his first season. From 2012 through Week Eight of the current season, he ranks second in fumble recoveries and tied for sixth in forced fumbles.
Most Opponent Fumble Recoveries, NFL, 2012-17
Most Forced Fumbles, NFL, 2012-17
But wait, there's more. A whole lot more.
You may have noticed that there is only a little bit of overlap between those two lists above, with only David and Watt showing up on both. We expanded that last one just a bit to the top six instead of the top five to display those two, but that won't be necessary in the charts below. As will be obvious, David's statistical prowess since 2012 overlaps with a lot of different league leaders.
The charts below display the top five from 2012-17 in four different categories: Total Tackles, Solo Tackles, Tackles for Loss and Stuffs. Stuffs are a subset of tackles for loss that specifically apply to a running back being stopped behind the line of scrimmage on a rushing play.
Most Total Tackles, NFL, 2012-17
Most Solo Tackles, NFL, 2012-17
Most Tackles for Loss, NFL, 2012-17
Most Stuffs, NFL, 2012-17
As a 4-3 outside linebacker, David is in position to make a lot of tackles, and to add tackles for loss and forced fumbles. Obviously, the league's sack leaderboard is going to be dominated by defensive linemen and pass-rushing linebackers, while it is the NFL's defensive backs that are going to crowd the top of the interceptions and passes defensed list. However, among defenders whose primary job it is to tackle ballcarriers, David is one of the best at also providing those other big plays in the backfield and in the secondary.
Only five players in the NFL have had at least 500 total tackles and at least 10 interceptions since 2012. Not surprisingly, David is one of those five.
At the same time, and with a wonderful dose of symmetry, David is one of just five players since 2012 to have at least 500 total tackles and at least 15 sacks…and only because we're rounding up on Bobby Wagner's 14.5 sacks.
As you can see, the only overlap on those two lists – the only players in the NFL to have at least 500 total tackles, at least 10 interceptions and at least 15 sacks, are David and Carolina's Thomas Davis. Here's a comparison of those two in that time span in all the statistical categories we've listed above: Total Tackles, Solo Tackles, TFLs, Stuffs, Interceptions, Forced Fumbles and Fumble Recoveries. We've also added passes defensed.
It's abundantly clear that both David and Davis are fantastic NFL defenders capably of impacting a game in a wide variety of ways. Choosing one or the other for your defense would probably be a matter of personal preference. Still, they are the only two 500-tackle, 10-interception, 15-sack players in the NFL since David joined the league. There are a number of additional statistical filters we could apply to make David stand alone, but one easy one is tackles for loss. As seen in the chart above, David has 88 of those to Davis's 46.
Thus, if we search for any player who has at least 500 tackles, 10 interceptions, 15 passes defensed and 50 tackles for loss since 2012, we come up with just one name: