Just How Good Are Kwon & Lavonte?

Continuing my mini series “Just How Good Are They,” I wanted to dive into the stats to see where our linebacking dynamic duo stacks up against some of the all-time great Buccaneer players in history as well as some of the best in the game today. I want to make sure all of our WTB readers understand just how lucky we are to have two players of this talent level on the defense. Lavonte David is going into his sixth season and Kwon Alexander will be entering his third so they’re both young with a lot of football ahead of them for us to enjoy here in Tampa Bay. First, let’s see how they compare to some Buccaneers from the past.

Weakside Linebackers- Lavonte David vs. Derrick Brooks (first 5 seasons)
Lavonte David: Games- 78 Tackles- 663 Sacks- 18.0 Ints- 10 Forced Fumbles- 12 Fumble Recoveries- 6
Derrick Brooks: Games- 80 Tackles- 669 Sacks- 4.5 Ints- 8 Forced Fumbles- 8 Fumble Recoveries- 3
With two fewer games than Brooks, David only trails the Hall of Famer by 6 tackles and is far ahead in every other statistic.

Middle Linebackers- Kwon Alexander vs. Hardy Nickerson & Shelton Quarles (first 2 seasons as Bucs starters)
Kwon Alexander: Games- 28 Tackles- 238 Sacks- 6.0 Ints- 3 Forced Fumbles- 3 Fumble Recoveries- 2
Hardy Nickerson: Games- 27 Tackles- 193 Sacks- 1.0 Ints- 2 Forced Fumbles- 0 Fumble Recoveries- 2
Shelton Quarles: Games- 30 Tackles- 336 Sacks- 2.0 Ints- 3 Forced Fumbles- 2 Fumble Recoveries- 1
Hardy Nickerson was the greatest middle LB in Buccaneers history…period. So it’s no wonder that he is number one on this list in tackles thanks to his mind blowing 214 tackles during the 1993 season. However, he does trail King Kwon in every other statistical category. Another thing to keep in mind is that these numbers are from Nickerson’s first two years in Tampa, which were his 7th and 8th years in the league after starting his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And even though Quarles began his NFL career with the Bucs in 1997, he didn’t become starting MLB until 2002 which was his 6th year in the league. While Kwon is ahead in most stats, this is comparing his first two seasons in the league to two seasoned NFL veterans with 4 or 5 years of experience on him.

Lavonte David vs. NFL’s Best Current OLB’s
First 4 Seasons
Lavonte David (Buccaneers): Games- 62 Tackles- 576 Sacks- 13.0 Ints- 9 Forced Fumbles- 8 Fumble Recoveries- 4
Jamie Collins (Patriots): Games- 58 Tackles- 395 Sacks- 12.5 Ints- 5 Forced Fumbles- 11 Fumble Recoveries- 4
Alec Ogletree (Rams): Games- 52 Tackles- 407 Sacks- 3.5 Ints- 5 Forced Fumbles- 11 Fumble Recoveries- 1
As you can see by these numbers, David smokes two of the best in the game in nearly every category except forced fumbles.

First 5 Seasons
Lavonte David (Buccaneers): Games- 62 Tackles- 576 Sacks- 13.0 Ints- 9 Forced Fumbles- 8 Fumble Recoveries- 4
K.J. Wright (Seahawks): Games- 76 Tackles- 613 Sacks- 7.5 Ints- 1 Forced Fumbles- 9 Fumble Recoveries- 5
Thomas Davis (Panthers): Games- 69 Tackles- 388 Sacks- 11.0 Ints- 3 Forced Fumbles- 8 Fumble Recoveries- 2
Despite playing in 14 less games, David is only 37 tackles behind Wright and has more sacks and more interceptions with only one less forced fumble. Davis isn’t even close statistically.

Kwon Alexander vs. NFL’s Best Current ILB’s
Kwon Alexander (Buccaneers): Games- 28 Tackles- 238 Sacks- 6.0 Ints- 3 Forced Fumbles- 3 Fumble Recoveries- 2
Bobby Wagner (Seahawks): Games- 30 Tackles- 293 Sacks- 7.0 Ints- 5 Forced Fumbles- 0 Fumble Recoveries- 0
Luke Kuechly (Panthers): Games- 32 Tackles- 331 Sacks- 3.0 Ints- 6 Forced Fumbles- 0 Fumble Recoveries- 0
Derrick Johnson (Chiefs): Games- 29 Tackles- 170 Sacks- 6.5 Ints- 0 Forced Fumbles- 3 Fumble Recoveries- 3
Navarro Bowman (49ers): Games- 32 Tackles- 189 Sacks- 2.0 Ints- 0 Forced Fumbles- 0 Fumble Recoveries- 3
Danny Trevathan (Broncos): Games- 32 Tackles- 182 Sacks- 3.0 Ints- 3 Forced Fumbles- 3 Fumble Recoveries- 1
As you can see, Kwon has played the least amount of games out of this group by as much as four games. As much as it pains me to say it, Luke Kuechly is a monster at middle linebacker. I’ll give respect where it’s due, even when it’s a Carolina Panther player. He’s averaged 145 tackles per season since entering the league in 2012 and has become the gold standard for NFL MLB’s. By the way, Kwon had 145 tackles last season as well and he’s on the verge of a breakout year in his second season in Mike Smith’s defense.

There’s not a better linebacker tandem in the entire league. Lavonte David finished tied for the league lead with 17 tackles for loss while Kwon Alexander led the NFL with 109 solo tackles last year. David actually finished second in the league in solo tackles in 2014 so they’re both building reputations as tackling machines. However, racking up the tackles isn’t necessarily a good thing if it means that the defense is having difficulty getting off the field. A more revealing fact about these two may be in their number of defeats. A defeat is a play in which a defender tackles a player for a loss, forces a turnover or makes a stop on third or fourth down. David was among the league leaders in this category. He totaled 29 defeats in 2016, good enough for a tie for second with the Raiders Khalil Mack and the Broncos Von Miller. Not bad company. This is nothing new for the Bucs LB as he finished 1st in this category for 2013 and 2nd in it for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. However, Kwon is new to this list. In just his second year in the league, he finished with 28 defeats, only one behind David. What’s even more impressive is that most of their defeats came in pass coverage while two-thirds of Preston Brown’s 31 defeats, the league leader, came from run stops. David had 19 pass defeats and Alexander had 16 of them.

Going into their second year in Mike Smith’s defense, both of these players are primed to have monster seasons. With more time in the system comes more experience. With more experience comes more knowledge. With more knowledge comes less thinking. With less thinking comes faster play. Both of these guys already play fast…now they should be able to play even faster. Most fans and even the NFL media keep talking about the new Bucs offense, but I’m just as excited about the defense. Mike Smith has a history of turning mediocre to bad defenses into top 5 defenses within his first couple of years. The Bucs finished 2016 season as one of the league’s best defenses after a rocky start. They were among league leaders in sacks and turnovers over the second half of the season and finished 1st in third down percentage, thanks in large part to their two young linebackers. This is going to be a fun defense to watch and a historical season to witness. And it all starts with training camp this week. Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!

Jon Hinkle

My name is Jon Hinkle, also know as Deez Bucz to most Buccaneers fans. I have been given the opportunity by WhatTheBuc.net to do some writing about one of my favorite subjects...Buccaneer football and all that goes with it. This is my first public writing gig, so I'm hoping that I can entertain the fine fans of Tampa Bay while learning and gaining experience towards a possible new career in sports reporting. I hope everyone enjoys the fruits of my labor and I look forward to bringing some new and exciting stories to Bucs Nation! And as always.....GO BUCS!!!

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