The Buccaneers Found a Gem: Kwon Alexander
The Buccaneers have a true diamond in linebacker Kwon Alexander.
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When Jason Licht drafted Kwon Alexander in the 4th round of the 2015 draft, I don’t think anyone expected much. Originally drafted as an outside linebacker, the selection seemed to be more about depth than finding a quality starter. A year and a half later we sit here wondering how the Buccaneers got the steal of the draft in 2015.
Kwon has now appeared in 26 games and recorded jaw dropping stat lines. Last week, his 21 tackle performance in front of a national audience was eye-popping. Kwon was the first defensive player to have 21 tackles in a single game since 2013. In the Sunday night football game against the Cowboys, Kwon was everywhere making tackles and pumping the defense up. Kwon’s forced fumble in the 4th quarter of that game, even gave the Bucs a chance at the victory.
What’s even more eye-opening is when you begin to compare Kwon’s statistics to that of hall of famers and guys that are known for being the heart and soul of their team’s defense. After two short seasons, one of which was shortened by suspension, Kwon is on pace to match the career combined tackle totals of Brian Urlacher. The recorded stats on NFL.com don’t go past 2001, Urlacher’s rookie season, but with the eleven years they did record, Kwon is on pace to match the stat. Keep in mind those are counting the games he missed last year because of the suspension. who knows what he could have done with four more games last year.
Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Both Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis finished their careers with 41.5 sacks. Kwon has three in each of his first two years (still has two games to get more) at that rate, and assuming an eleven-year career (Urlacher’s career length), Kwon would finish with 33 sacks, a couple short of Urlacher and Lewis. A more modern representation of an all around middle linebacker, Luke Kuechly, has nine sacks in five years of play. Obviously Kwon won’t average three per year for the rest of his career, he will have up and down years, but with that being said, 41.5 isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Pretty impressive for a fourth rounder right? Besides that Kwon has quickly become a leader on the defensive side of the ball in the same form of the two greats listed above. In the Cowboys and Saints game, you saw a lot more of an emotional Kwon after every tackle he stood up and celebrated and did his part to pump up the defense. The young man has improved leaps and bounds from one year to the next and his hard work can’t be denied.
Remember early this year after the Bucs week one win in Atlanta? In the 31-24 victory, Kwon had 17 combined tackles to go along with a sack. In the press conference, Koetter referenced Kwon saying he was a hard worker,
” I walked through the locker pregame when some guys are stretching and some guys are seeing how cool they look in their uniform, Kwon was watching game tape on his surface”.
That speaks volumes about the type of worker the Bucs have discovered for the interior of this defense. Kwon was named an alternate for the Pro bowl this year, but as much of a compliment that is, he should’ve been a starter. Regardless, the Bucs have found a young man with as much promise as any to become one of the many great Buccaneer linebackers.