Assuming they win the position battles they’ll eventually be tossed into, defensive tackle Chris Baker and safety J.J. Wilcox may not be the only new starters on the defensive side of the ball for the Buccaneers this year.
The Bucs are also looking at starting someone new at strong-side linebacker, where they do not appear all that interested in re-signing last year’s starter, free agent Daryl Smith.
No one should be surprised. Smith was brought in a year ago primarily because he had a solid understanding of coordinator Mike Smith’s complex defense but he’s 35 years old now and after watching him make just 35 tackles last year the Bucs appear ready to move on.
But to whom? You can make the argument – and the Bucs probably won’t disagree – that after stud starters Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David they are a team that is running a bit thin at the linebacker position.
The Bucs, however, believe they have at least one others starter in their midst, and it’s a player that many Bucs followers may have forgotten about after he was forced to spend all of last season watching from the sidelines while nursing a hamstring injury.
That player is Devante Bond (above), an Oklahoma product the Bucs grabbed in the sixth round of last year’s draft. As it stands now, Bond is at the top of the depth chart at strong-side linebacker, which seems like a bit of dicey proposition to say the least.
As you might expect of a player drafted in the sixth round, Bond was considered a developmental prospect when the Bucs picked him up, and he certainly didn’t get a chance to develop his game much last year. At least not the physical part of it.
The Bucs love his athleticism, though, and believe he may be able to handle the requirements of what amounts to a two-down position, even though he was never even a full-time starter in college.
By the way, the fall-back position at this point is Adarius Glanton, a third-year pro out of Florida Atlantic and Lake Gibson High School who did dress for all 16 games last year but worked mostly on special teams, making 13 tackles.
Again, we’re only talking about a two-down position here, so the plan as it stands now to go with Bond and Glanton certainly could work. But you get the feeling the eventual starter here is someone who may not even be on the roster yet. Or maybe he just hasn’t been re-signed yet.