In 2017, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were looking at a breadth of talent within the Linebacker core. Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander were locked in starters and leaders for the Defense, but there was a hole left at the SAM position. With the 107th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Jason Licht pulled the trigger on his 2nd LSU Linebacker, Kendell Beckwith.
Despite taking Beckwith in the third round, Devante Bond (a 2016 6th rounder) was slated as the starter at SAM heading in to the season. A position Bond wouldn’t hold for long. Kendell Beckwith came on as a sigh of relief for the Bucs as he seamlessly transitioned in to a very productive Outside Linebacker. In addition, he ended up playing a fair share of MIKE and WILL in the 4-3 scheme in 2017. Notching 73 total tackles, 7 tackles for loss and a Forced Fumble in his rookie season. It was looking like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on their way to having one of, if not the leagues best linebacker groups going in to 2018.
After the conclusion of the 2018 season, the Buccaneers appeared to be set at Linebacker. That is until April that year when Beckwith was involved in an automobile accident. While nobody was seriously injured, Beckwith left the incident with a broken ankle. An injury that which would sideline him for the entire 2018 season. Not an ideal situation for the young talent but he was taking it in stride and keeping positive.
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“Life happens”, Beckwith said. “You gotta just roll with it — it’s gonna go how it’s gonna go. It’s out of my control.”
What Can We Expect in 2019?
The injury sustained from the accident would not an easy recovery, but it’s been almost a year of rest and rehab already. It’s fair to expect a fully recovered ankle by the time workouts, and camp start in a few months.
Under contract through the 2020 season, Beckwith is facing a new challenge. A brand new coaching staff. Specifically, a brand new Defensive Coordinator with a change in scheme. However, this is one change that will likely work in his favor. Coach Todd Bowles was asked in his introduction press conference about the plans for 4-3 or 3-4 moving forward. “Versatility” was the first word that eluded to any concrete plan of attack. Luckily for Beckwith, versatility is his strength. As noted previously, the Buccaneers asked Beckwith to play every linebacker spot in 2017 as a rookie and he thrived. Moving to a 3-4 would only enhance the probability to require his services this season with an additional spot to be filled on the field.
Kendell Beckwith is likely not even close to being a cut candidate with his team friendly (rookie) contract. His ankle should healed by the time the season rolls around as well so it’s likely that we will see a healthy dose of the 24 year old in 2019.