Four Top Outside Linebackers Bucs Could Target in 2015

NFL News: Tampa Bay Bucs

Outside linebacker has been one of the most productive positions for the Bucs in 2015 as the leading tacklers of the team.

Lavonte David and Danny Lansanah have 146 and 81 combined tackles, respectively, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of the teams 1,165 tackles, leading the league in 2014. David lead the team in tackles for loss with 19 while Lansanah is tied with cornerback Alterraun Verner with nine.

While outside linebacker may not necessarily be a need, depth to maintain quality of play is. Here are four names who can help the team.

Jason Worilds

Worilds is entering his six season in the league and as the second-highest paid at his position, but hasnt been living up to his contract. The Pittsburgh Steelers second round choice in 2010 has 204 combined tackles, 25.5 sacks, four fumbles forced and one interception through 73 games played. The team opted not to franchise tag him, but they still may yet re-sign him despite letting him hit the open market.

Worilds would fit with the Bucs system since Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, a former Tony Dungy disciple, also runs a variation of the Tampa 2 in Pittsburgh.

If Bucs head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht could recruit Worilds, theyll be getting a linebacker whos been in a perennial top-10 defense for most of his career.

Lance BriggsLance Briggs

Briggs, the seven-time Pro Bowler and 2003 third round choice with the Chicago Bears, owes a lot of his success to Smith, who was his head coach from 2004 to 2012. All of Briggs Pro Bowl stints were during Smiths tenure. In Briggs 12 seasons in the league, hes amassed 1,177 combined tackles, 15 sacks, 19 fumbles forced and 16 interceptions through 173 games played.

He only missed four games in the regular season from 2003 until 2012. Briggs has seen better days since injuries slowed him down playing only 17 games in the last two seasons with career lows in tackles , 71 and 34, respectively.

Despite having played the fifth-most games in franchise history, Briggs history with the team may not be for much longer given new head coach John Foxs decision to shift to a 3-4 defense under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Briggs has thrived under a 4-3 system.

If Briggs wants a ring, the Bucs can be a more attractive option given how active the team is expected to be in free agency and his familiarity with Smith. At worst, he is a rental and can thrive in open competition and potentially improve the position. Plus, at 34 and his current health, hes not going to command the contract he used to.

Geno-Hayes-2014Geno Hayes

Hayes was drafted by from Raheem Morris and Mark Dominik as the sixth round choice in the 2008 draft. Hes had moderate success with the Bucs from 2008-2011 with 257 combined tackles, seven sacks, four fumble forces and four interceptions through 56 games.

Hayes left for the Bears in 2012 for an unremarkable and forgettable stint in Smiths final year before landing with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013 where he produced 128 combined tackles, three sacks, two fumbles forced and two interceptions in his two years.

A Bucs return could benefit Hayes with the familiarity of the Tampa 2 under coaches with more proven results in Smith and coordinator Leslie Frazier, who had more success than Morris ever achieved.

Martrell Spaight

While outside linebacker is more than likely not a priority for the Bucs in the 2015 draft, Spaight, whos projected to be a late round selection, has the speed and nose for the ball to develop to be effective on coverage. Linebackers in the Tampa 2 tend to be a bit undersized but their ability to use their speed close in on the ball carrier can make up for an intimidating and physical frame.

According to Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout, Spaight reacts quickly once he locates the football, showing impressive burst to slip through traffic. Rang also compliments on his ability to make open field tackles and force the ball out. Turnovers are an essential component to running the Tampa 2 successfully. The Arkansas prospects stands at six feet and 236 lb. and is slated to go in the fifth or sixth round. You know who also shares similar physical attributes? How about Hall of Famer, Derrick Brooks?

Whether or not the Bucs decide to draft Jameis Winston, Brooks can also mentor Spaight.


About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News,, and Tampa Tribune.
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