The Buccaneers' rookies have contributed in a big way this season. In addition to Jameis Winston, the team's top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Bucs have seen Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Kwon Alexander and Jude Adjei-Barimah secure starting spots and have success.
The Buccaneers were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, but Lavonte David sees a bright future with the young players on Tampa Bay's roster.
"That's probably the most I've ever seen rookies play on the team and contribute in a big way," David said. "Start with Jameis and you've got Kwon [Alexander], you've got Jude [Adjei-Barimah], you've got the two offensive linemen, Ali [Marpet] and Donovan [Smith]. You've got the rookie receivers who stepped up in a big way, and Mike Evans is only in his second year. We've got a lot of young guys with a lot of potential, so this program has a lot to look forward to in the upcoming year."
David has a particularly close connection with Alexander, who recorded 93 tackles, nine passes defensed and two interceptions in 12 games this season. On two different occasions, Alexander was selected as the NFL's Rookie of the Week, taking home the award in Week 3 and in Week 8. Despite missing the final four games of the season, Alexander could still finish with the second-most tackles on the team.
"Kwon is like my little brother," David said. "We played off each other. Our chemistry kept improving all year and we were just playing off each other. It was great, it was fun. Now we have a lot to look forward to coming into next year. We've got OTAs to go through, and he can go through a whole camp where he's playing fully at MIKE. There's a lot to look forward to and it's going to be a fun year."
After David signed a five-year contract extension this offseason, the pair is set to play alongside each other for the foreseeable future.