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As good as Devin White might be, Bucs still might have missed

Tampa Bay’s decision to pass on Josh Allen, the NFL draft’s best edge rusher, will be costly in the NFC South.
LSU linebacker Devin White poses with his new jersey after the Bucs selected White in the first round. [AP Photo/Mark Humphrey]
LSU linebacker Devin White poses with his new jersey after the Bucs selected White in the first round. [AP Photo/Mark Humphrey]
Published Apr. 26, 2019
Updated Apr. 26, 2019

TAMPA — Let’s make one thing clear: Devin White, the former LSU inside linebacker who the Bucs chose fifth in the NFL draft, is a very good football player who is going to make people proud that he is a Buccaneer.

He’s just not what this franchise needed, first and foremost.

That would be pass rushing dervish Josh Allen, who was sitting right there when the Bucs passed him over. Allen went two picks later, at No. 7, to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the perfect haunting position. But not to worry, Bucs fans. We’ve got Blaine Gabbert. Got him. Can’t take him away from the Bucs. No, sir.

White seems like a delightful kid. He is going to make a million tackles and a million friends. It’s nothing against him. He’s a great player, maybe a future Pro Bowler. But the Bucs didn’t maximize their spot. It just didn’t happen.

I’m not saying this kid isn’t a great player. It’s that the Bucs had a chance to get a great player at a more impactful position in the NFL and they said no thank you.

There were high fives at Bucs headquarters after White was taken. Bucs GM Jason Licht led the way. Then he went in and, as usual, and told media that White was the Bucs’ guy all along. Same deal every year.

You know, if the NFL let teams start drafting players from Mars, Licht would take the kid from Jupiter and say he was their guy all along. Good hands, four of them, in fact.

The Bucs wanted White all along. Let’s just hope it’s not like last year, when they wanted the running back from USC all along.

At least this draft was fresh out of Aguayos.

I already love White’s story and his personality: that his kid brother wore a Bucs jersey, that he owns and loves horses.

I wonder if any of them can pass rush.

Essentially, the Bucs just picked White to replace Kwon Alexander, who left for San Francisco because Licht and the Bucs’ salary cap mismanagement didn’t allow them to even make Alexander an offer.

The Steelers moved up in the first round to take another Devin, Devin Bush, a player just like Devin White, but five spots after the Bucs. What does that tell you?

And Josh Allen was there.

Look, the need to impact the quarterback means everything in the NFL, especially in the NFC South. Hitting the QB outweighs everything else.

The quickest and easiest comparison to the Bucs drafting White would be Roquan Smith, taken eighth last year by Chicago. And Smith is great. A side-to-side menace. But the Bears defense had Khalil Mack, their edge guy.

White is going to make a million tackles — four yards downfield. I’m not saying the kid isn’t a superb player, but the best pure pass rusher in this draft was sitting there and the Bucs said no thanks, we’re not going to do that. We’ve made up our minds.

White, super talented, will drop back and cover the tight ends and the backs that the Bucs have never covered. Maybe he covers and runs down Alvin Kamara when the Bucs play the Saints.

But he’s not going to sack Drew Brees. And Matt Ryan and Cam Newton’s ribs will sleep easier tonight knowing the Bucs took Devin White, not Josh Allen. White was a good pick, but he wasn’t the ideal pick for this franchise at this time. The missed that chance.

Contact Martin Fennelly at mfennelly@tampabay.com or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly