TAMPA — The Bucs added a Florida State linebacker on Saturday known for his ability to run and hit, and it all sounded so familiar.
No, Dekoda Watson is no Derrick Brooks — or even Geno Hayes. But the Bucs' decision to draft Watson in the seventh round wasn't something the team took lightly.
"He is athletic, and he's a great tackler," general manager Mark Dominik said. "He's a big-time team captain. I see him really contributing."
The Bucs obviously had good fortune with Watson's predecessors, like Brooks, a former Buc and FSU linebacker who looks to be headed for the Hall of Fame. Hayes just finished his first season as the starting weakside linebacker, but he shows indications that he can, perhaps, be a fixture in the Bucs defense, too.
Watson is long way away from proving anything at the NFL level, but the Bucs envision adding needed depth. He'll likely begin on the strongside, where Quincy Black started last season.
Watson was a second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection last season when he started 12 games. He led the team with 61/2 sacks and 13 tackles for losses.
Those pass-rush skills are one of the things that intrigued the Bucs.
Coach Raheem Morris, also the defensive coordinator, was already devising methods in which he could take advantage of Watson's quickness on the edge.
"He's kind of a clone of Quincy, but he has put his hand down (on the ground) a little bit and rushed off the edge," Morris said. "With all the potential packages we can put in and get that push. … We're fired up about that guy."
Yet, despite his ability and versatility, Watson lasted until the 217th pick in the draft. That did not sit well with him.
"I felt like my numbers were great," he said. "I felt like I did a good job at the combine. I feel like I wanted to go higher."
Asked about his strengths as a player, he said, "One thing I can say about myself is that my speed is very good for my size (6-1, 226 pounds). I think I can run with the best. I'm very explosive. That's something that I pride myself in. … If they want me to drop back in coverage, I can do it."
Sounds like he has something in common with the FSU and Bucs linebackers who came before him.