Is Bucs’ Devin White already the NFL’s best linebacker?

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Devin White arguably is the Bucs’ best player on defense, and now the only question is whether he is already the best linebacker in the NFL.

That’s high praise considering he plays alongside linebacker Lavonte David, who at 31, signed a two-year, $25 million contract to remain with the Bucs in March.

But White, 23, is special. He demonstrated that by recording 140 tackles and nine sacks during the 2020 regular season, his second in the NFL.

After missing the Bucs’ first playoff game at Washington with the coronavirus, White was a monster in the postseason. In three games, he recorded 38 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions and scooped up fumbles at New Orleans and in the NFC Championship Game at Green Bay.

NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger was asked to name which NFC defensive player everybody needs to know about in 2021 and didn’t hesitate to name White.

“I can’t take my eyes off Devin White, the middle linebacker of the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” Baldinger said. “Because when your middle linebacker is fast, your defense is fast.”

Baldinger, a former offensive lineman who played for the Cowboys, Colts and Eagles, broke down some game film of White during the NFC Championship Game in which he not only correctly diagnosed the Packers’ plays but was too fast to block.

“And the only thing faster than Devin White’s feet are his eyes,” Baldinger said. “He sees things so quickly. And so here he is against Aaron Jones. There’s going to be a little quick toss. A quick toss, just try to get it out there fast. No. Forget it. Devin White saw it right away, took the right angle and takes him down for a loss.”

White’s postseason performance has finally earned him a lot of attention. He was a second-team All Pro in 2020 but still is waiting for his first Pro Bowl appearance.

“There’s so many different ways you can deploy Devin White,” Baldinger said.

If the Bucs repeat as Super Bowl champs, it may be because White leads the way in Todd Bowles’ defense.

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