On the afternoon of April 27, just about eight months ago, the Buccaneers were getting ready for the second day of the 2012 NFL Draft and feeling pretty good about bringing home both Mark Barron and Doug Martin on Day One. To a man, the Bucs’ personnel pros felt as if they had executed their plan perfectly the previous evening.
Still, one Buccaneer scouted had a minor lament that essentially echoed the one frustrating part of any draft: There’s no way to get all of the players you really want.
Specifically, this scout figured that the Bucs’ trade up into the bottom of the second round to get Martin, while the right move, had cost them the chance to nab Nebraska LB Lavonte David, considered a high second-round pick on most charts. Ah, but not so fast.
On Friday evening, the second stage of the draft, the Bucs watched as David unexpectedly remained on the board heading into the latter half of the second round. Eventually, when the picks had come close enough to Tampa Bay’s high third-round choice to give them enough ammunition to pull the trigger, General Manager Mark Dominik swung a deal to trade up once again, and David was theirs. It was a scenario too good to be true.
And it still feels that way. Barron and Martin have been starters since Day One and appear to be indispensable pieces for the Buccaneers moving forward. No matter what had happened, the team would be happy today with those two decisions. But David has also been fantastic – a leading candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, in fact – and that makes last April’s maneuverings seem even more important.
Every year, there are unfortunate busts and surprising hits in every round of the draft. David certainly seems to be the latter, though it would be a stretch to call the Bucs surprised at what he has accomplished. Still, according to an analyst on NFL.com, David already appears to be one of the most astute picks any team made in the second or third rounds this past spring.
Alex Gelhar, who on Thursday took a look at the unsung performers that were picked in the first round of the 2012 draft, after such well-known selections as Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Gelhar followed that up on Friday with a list of the best eight picks from Rounds Two and Three “not named Russell Wilson.” David is among the selections.
Gelhar describes David as such: “The emerging leader of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers young defense is rookie second round pick Lavonte David. David has flourished in the middle of Tampa Bay’s defense, getting better as the season has gone along.”