Auburn’s K.J. Britt overcame injury, looked improved at Senior Bowl

Former Auburn Tigers linebacker, and one of many latest Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ok.J. Britt should have a soccer face.

Again when Todd Bowles was the newly employed defensive coordinator for the Bucs, employees author Carmen Vitali revealed a conversation with the seasoned coach, and in a single a part of the dialog, he talked about his capacity to learn the faces of individuals he interacts with.

“It’s only a look,” Bowles instructed Vitali. “You take a look. That tells me what sort of participant you might be or aren’t. It’s completely different relying on the individual, it’s onerous to explain however… I’ve by no means been improper.

It might be simplistic, however perhaps this is the reason Britt is a Buc, right now. Having been chosen by the defending Super Bowl champions to hitch a stacked linebacker group, Britt was fast to speak about how stunning it actually was the staff drafted him within the first place.

Requested by Greg Auman of The Athletic about his interactions with the staff forward of the NFL Draft, Britt stated,

“I’m actually, actually blindsided. I solely talked to the Bucs at the Senior Bowl. I do know I had a fantastic interview with the Bucs at the Senior Bowl. Didn’t discuss to any teaching employees or (something) through the course of…only one time with the Bucs at the Senior Bowl and I suppose I simply made a great impression then.”

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Outback Bowl - Minnesota v Auburn

Picture by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire by way of Getty Photographs

For readability, I’m not truly suggesting Bowles looked at Britt’s face alone and this was Jason Licht pulling the set off on a fifth-round draft choice. However it’s an attention-grabbing anecdote I recalled when listening to Britt’s shock in being chosen to hitch Tampa Bay’s stacked protection.

So, why did the Bucs draft him? To get there, we’ve got to ask what he brings to the squad. I did precisely that to somebody who’s been overlaying Britt’s collegiate profession, Zac Blackerby of the Locked On Auburn Podcast.

“His first step is basically actually good,” Blackerby instructed me. “His soccer IQ is top-notch…and most significantly he’s going to work tougher than anyone else within the room, and he’s a man that you simply actually really need in your locker room.”

That is all nice, and I’m positive the Buccaneers knew the identical once they drafted him. Britt is a hard-hitting linebacker who prepares and research like a professional earlier than he’s ever stepped into an NFL assembly room. However there’s a motive he fell to the fifth spherical, and in reality, was anticipated by many to get chosen later than the place the Bucs took him. Cross protection.

The report on this rookie is his go protection is suspect at finest. But, when he stepped on the sector at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl, he didn’t seem like the legal responsibility quite a lot of scouting reviews would possibly let you know he’s.

Reese’s Senior Bowl

Picture by Don Juan Moore/Getty Photographs

And this wasn’t misplaced on Blackerby both as he instructed me, “…all season, we had been like, ‘Man, please get him off the sector on third and eight (or extra). Get him off as a result of Auburn’s acquired different guys that may cowl in house.’ And also you hear that, after which unexpectedly he goes to Cellular for the Senior Bowl, and all these draft reporters are saying, ‘Yeah, the very best linebacker in protection is Ok.J. Britt,’ and I’m like, ‘What!?’. It’s like all of his rehabbing getting wholesome you might inform it’s one thing that he labored on. And Ok.J. is gonna outwork you, I imply he’s gonna work as onerous as he probably can to assist his staff as a result of that’s the type of man he’s.”

Actually, at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl, Britt was chosen by his staff’s working backs and offensive lineman as the very best linebacker of the week. Excessive reward for any participant, however whenever you’re chosen by guys like Trey Smith (Tennessee), Ben Cleveland (Georgia), Alex Leatherwood (Alabama), and Landon Dickerson (Alabama), it provides one other layer.

Revered by his teammates. Not the primary time Britt earned this distinction, and it received’t be the final. Regardless of taking part in simply two video games, Blackerby instructed me the Senior’s presence on the protection at Auburn was felt nonetheless.

Mentioning Britt as top-of-the-line leaders he’s seen come by way of Auburn, Blackerby stated, “I‘d by no means seen a man be a face of a protection with out, like, truly taking part in on the sector. And in order that’s the type of chief that Ok.J. Britt is. It was nonetheless his locker room regardless of him not taking part in and I by no means actually seen a man have that type of pull earlier than, and in order that’s what you’re getting with Ok.J. Britt.”

Excessive reward certainly, particularly when you think about two different defenders Blackerby has seen come by way of this system embrace Tremendous Bowl champions and present Tampa Bay Buccaneers defenders, Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean.

Maybe it is the lineage and success Tampa Bay has had with Auburn gamers previously. Working again Peyton Barber was an undrafted free agent out of the varsity when he joined the Bucs and ultimately performed his strategy to a beginning job earlier than leaving for Washington within the 2020 low season.

Possibly it’s his repute as a between-the-tackles thumper who can contribute to the run protection whereas taking part in an essential function on particular groups. Maybe his management is what put him excessive for the Buccaneers. Or perhaps he simply has a ‘soccer face’.

No matter it’s, Ok.J. Britt is a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Trying ahead to taking part in the sport he loves, placing all of it out on the sector for his staff, and proving to his doubters he’s greater than able to taking part in the sport at the best degree.

For extra on Ok.J. Britt and my dialog with Locked On Auburn host Zac Blackerby, try the Locked On Bucs Podcast.

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