Top 50: 2016 Opponents Include Pro Bowl LB Facing Cowboys 2nd Straight Year

(Editor's Note: With the offseason in full swing, the focus is now shifting to the 2016 season, where the Cowboys have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Not only do the Cowboys face five playoff teams but many of the top players in football. So the writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys. Today, we continue the list with Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David.)

Name: Lavonte David
Team:Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Position: Linebacker
Height/Weight:6-1/233
Experience:4 seasons
College: Nebraska

2016 vs. Cowboys:

The Cowboys and Buccaneers meet in Week 15 (Sunday, Dec. 18) at AT&T Stadium – the second matchup in as many years and the 18th meeting between the two franchises. The Cowboys lead the all-time series, 13-4.

What's the Deal:

David continued to emerge as one of the league's outstanding young linebackers in 2015 after signing a five-year extension with Tampa Bay worth over $50 million. He made his first Pro Bowl with a career-high 147 tackles along with three sacks, three interceptions and three forced fumbles. David also made the All-Pro team in 2013 with 145 tackles and a career-high 7 sacks and 5 interceptions.

Expect This:

In 2016 David will play for a new defensive coordinator, former Falcons head coach Mike Smith. Much like Sean Lee's role in Dallas, David has been a sideline-to-sideline playmaker at the weak-side linebacker spot in Tampa Bay's 4-3 scheme. Expect the former second-round pick to challenge the Cowboys in the run and as a pass rusher. He also rarely comes off the field, playing nearly every defensive snap for the Bucs year to year.

Previous Meetings:

In last year's 10-6 win over the Cowboys, David had a game-high 12 tackles (one for loss) along with a sack and a pass breakup. As a rookie in 2012, David started against the Cowboys and had five tackles in a 16-10 loss.

Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:

  • One of the best linebackers in the league when it comes to finding the ball and finishing the play. Was a tackling machine in college and has carried that over to his play in the NFL.
  • Lacks ideal size but makes up for it with outstanding competitiveness. Non-stop in the way he plays the game. Both physically and mentally tough.
  • Off-the-charts football intelligence. Always around the ball because he is rarely fooled.
  • Has the playing speed and quickness to run down plays from anywhere on the field. Able to consistently beat blocks with his quickness. Plays with range and a closing burst. One of the fastest in the league when it comes to reading a scheme and getting to the ball. Plays with lateral quickness and agility. Changes direction with ease.
  • Will surprise you with his strength but is a much better player when he can play on the move. His strength is his ability to avoid blocks. Plays with his hands on the move. Not always going to be able to anchor down and take on blocks and be successful.[embeddedad0]
  • Is a finisher as a tackler. Consistent in the way he plays. Is not up and down at all run or pass. Big time effort and pursuit. Leader of this defense in that regard.
  • Good in coverage due to smarts and athletic ability. Can play him in zone drops and he is going to react and make plays. Disciplined player overall.  Communicates well. Instinctive in the way he plays.
  • Has some quality snaps as a blitzer. Willing to attack the pocket and mix it up.
  • One of those linebackers that never comes off the field. Was built to play in a 4-3 defense. 

The writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys.

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