The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quietly had a need at middle linebacker going into the NFL draft. With the future of Lavonte David and Devin White up in the air with the Bucs, there was no clear plan for the future of the position. Addressing this in the draft was something that needed to happen, despite not having a hole on the roster there right now.
As a result, the Buccaneers drafted Pittsburgh linebacker SirVocea Dennis in the fifth round. The three year starter has had an impressive career for the Panther and defensive minded coach Pat Narduzzi. Now he prepares to join his college teammate Calijah Kancey in the NFL with the Buccaneers.
What does Dennis bring to Tampa Bay? Here’s what you can expect.
Dennis was selected to the All ACC team the last three years (third team in 2020, second team in 2021 and first team in 2022). Last season he was named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award which is given to college football’s best linebacker. Additionally, he was named to the ACC All Academic team in 2021.
On the field, Dennis is a tackling machine. He’s recorded more and more tackles each year, finishing with a career high 94 tackles last season. He’s also made his fair share of splash plays with double digit tackles for loss in each of the last three seasons, including 7.0 sacks last year.
Dennis is a hair undersized at 6 ‘0 and 225 lbs. However, he makes up for that in high sideline to sideline speed. He ran a 4.64 40 yard dash at the combine which puts him in the 81st percentile for linebackers.
More than just fast, Dennis also shows the necessary power to play in the NFL. He tested well in his explosive drills and managed to put up 19 reps of 225 lbs at the combine. In short, he has all the physical ability needed to be a success player in the NFL.
What Does He Bring
The first thing that stands out about Dennis is his tackling. He has great range and is very fundamentally sound in his technique. This will serve him well in special teams or when he is called upon to start down the line.
Dennis is always flowing to the ball. He can cut through gaps to make tackles for loss and has the explosiveness to be used as a blitzer. This is a part of his game that an aggressive defensive play caller like Todd Bowles will love.
In coverage, Dennis has the mobility to be very solid. He played safety prior to Pittsburgh and looks fairly comfortable in space. He has room to grow in this area, but I have no reason to believe that he won’t be able to improve with more development.
It’s unfair to compare a rookie to a future Hall of Famer like Lavonte David, but Dennis does fit a similar mold. His speed and tackling ability should make him the number one depth linebacker on the team sooner rather than later. And when you consider what he can bring to special teams then he will be a value piece as a rookie.
It’s possible that Dennis could step in next year and fill David’s spot if he doesn’t return. Having the opportunity to sit behind David and learn from the best will serve him well. And although he will probably never reach the same level of play as David, Dennis can do many of the same things. This will be an interesting prospect to watch over the next several months.
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