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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Select Pitt LB SirVocea Dennis in the 2023 NFL Draft



The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have received a major influx of defensive talent from Pitt this weekend.

SirVocea Dennis is joining Calijah Kancey, who was selected with the 19th pick Thursday, as the Buccaneers have selected Dennis with the 153rd pick (fifth round) in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Dennis is the first Pitt inside linebacker to be selected in the NFL Draft since Scott McKillop in 2009 — also joining outside linebackers Ejaun Price (2011) and Rashad Weaver (2021) in being drafted.

Dennis, who was just a two-star recruit out of Syracuse, New York in the class of 2019, grew into one of the most impactful linebackers in Pitt history — and easily one of the smartest players in Pitt history. And now he’s headed to Tampa.

Dennis put together a solid week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile in February, but he wasn’t able to compete in the game after injuring his foot. And while he didn’t compete at the NFL Combine either, he made sure to showcase his intelligence and knowledge of the game to NFL teams.

“(I) just really to show my knowledge of the game,” Dennis said at the Combine. “I take the knowledge piece of the game very serious. It helps me on the field, so showing that is very big for me.”

Dennis’ intelligence, his ability to connect with teammates and coaches and truly understand the game of football, was a key reason for the development in the linebackers room. There likely wasn’t a smarter player in Pitt’s locker room last season.

Of course, it is hard to miss Dennis’ prowess on the field, too. He’s a missile, sometimes maybe even a bit too eager in his pursuit, but he hits hard — and often. He led Pitt in tackles in each of the last two seasons, racking up a combined 22 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions along the way.

In his Pitt career, Dennis racked up 232 tackles (117 solo), 36 tackles for loss, 15 sacks, two interceptions (one for a touchdown), three pass breakups and forced three fumbles — while serving as a team captain.

And perhaps even more impressively, according to Pro Football Focus, he missed less than 5% of his tackles in 2022. He graded out as one of the top-ranked linebackers in college football last season, leading Pitt in run defense and tackling ratings. But it’s that added versatility that has landed him on NFL radars.

The Buccaneers’ fast-paced, hard-hitting defensive scheme is perfect for a linebacker like Dennis, who wants to be able to wear the green communication dot eventually in his career. And, of course, he gets to line up behind Kancey still.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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