Buccaneers Lavonte David Chasing Key Milestones For Hall Of Fame Resume

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We as fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are very lucky. Not just because of the two Super Bowl championships we’ve seen the team win, but also because of the great individual players this team has had. Truly some of the best to ever do it have played for the Buccaneers.

Names like Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, Tom Brady, Lee Roy Selmon and John Lynch will go down in history as some of the best players of all time who were well known for their time in Tampa. Even now, the Buccaneers have their next wave of Hall Of Fame players in waiting on the roster. One of those players is linebacker Lavonte David.

The casual fan might not realize just how good David has been over his career. Afterall, he has been consistently overlooked for All Pro and Pro Bowl teams. However, there should be no mistake about it; Lavonte David is one of the greatest linebackers in NFL history.

I don’t say that with hyperbole; it is no exaggeration to say that David is an all time great linebacker in the game. Don’t believe that he lives up to that lofty praise? David’s greatness can be encapsulated in two numbers that he will be hunting this season.

Seventeen

Seventeen symbolizes two things for David going into next year. The first is how many tackles for loss that he had last year. The second is how many tackles for loss he needs to break into the top three all time in that category.

Of course, it’s important to note that tackle for loss didn’t become a tracked stat until 1999. So there were several players before that time who realistically have a claim to the top of that list themselves. However, since that time David has been one of the best to ever do it.

This is particularly true among linebackers. Of the top 20 of credited tackles for loss leaderboard, 18 of those players are either edge rushers or defensive linemen. The only other linebacker on the list is Chicago Bears legend Brian Urlacher who had 138 tackles for loss (which ranks 13th all time) in his 13 year career. 

Currently, David has racked up 160 tackles for loss as he enters his 13th season in the NFL. That currently ranks 9th all time. With 17 more this season, he will make the jump from 9th to 3rd all time.

If he were to do that, he would pass some of the historically great pass rushers on his way. Some of these include Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen, Julius Peppers, Calais Campbell and recently retired Aaron Donald. These players, David included, are some of the best to ever play the game in terms of making tackles in the backfield. 

Seventy Three

In terms of tackles, it is a short list of players who have ever been better than David. Some of the all time great names would be included in that, such as Ray Lewis and Buccaneers own Derrick Brooks. However, David has a chance to greatly shorten that list this season.

With 73 solo tackles this season David would jump from 11th all time with 1,035 tackles all the way up to 5th with 1,108. In that jump he would pass some historically great names such as Ronde Barber, Brian Urlacher, Junior Seau, and Zach Thomas. All Hall Of Famers, just like David should be in time.

Again, it’s worth noting that this stat wasn’t tracked until 1994. So players like Seau and others who played before that year don’t have all of or any of their tackle numbers recorded on the leaderboards. However, David is still well ahead of big name players from this era such as Bobby Wagner, Luke Kuechly, Patrick Willis, and Lance Briggs.

It’s also worth noting that David has played fewer seasons than anyone currently above him of this list. Players like Brian Urlacher, Zach Thomas and Donnie Edwards (who ranks 4th all time with 1,135 tackles) all played 13 seasons in the NFL. Other players, such as Ray Lewis or Junior Seau, played at least 17 seasons in the NFL. So in terms of pace, David is doing this essentially as fast, if not faster, than most anyone ever has. 

Other Notable Numbers

While the two numbers above are where David has the chance to make the biggest jump in terms of the ranks of the all time greats, there are still plenty of places where David has already made his mark. Here are other significant numbers relevant to the David Hall of Fame conversation.

The number one, as in where he ranks all time in terms of forced fumbles among outside linebackers. While he ranks 31st all time overall, the vast majority of the players above him are pass rushers. In terms of pure linebackers, David is the best there’s ever been.

Twenty two and one hundred sixteen. These are the significant numbers in terms of combined tackles (as opposed to solo tackles) that are worth watching in terms of the leaderboard. With 22 tackles David will pass Donnie Edwards and crack into the top ten. With one 116 then David will pass Former Cleveland Browns star Clay Mathews for 8th all time, which is the highest that David would be able to climb this season.

Twenty

This is as big of a number as any I’ve mentioned so far. This is the ideal number of games that David could play this year. Part of this is needing to play games to rack up all these stats that will move him up the all time leaderboards. The other part is that this would mean a legitimate playoff run for the Buccaneers.

As much as the raw numbers tell a story of David’s greatness, many will remember him based on specific moments. How players play on the biggest stage is how many fans will think of them years later. David getting back to a championship game, either the NFC or Super Bowl, gives him the spotlight and allows fans to see how great he really is. And let’s be honest about it, a second Super Bowl ring will only enhance his Hall of Fame resume.

For more from J.T. click here, then make sure to follow him on Twitter.

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