Bucs linebackers Dekoda Watson and Jonathan Casillas were competitors for the starting Sam linebacker position in 2013. Fortunately for the Bucs, both players proved they could be worthy contributors both on defense and on special teams.
Watson was drafted by the Bucs in 2010 in the seventh round. Athletically he is a freak, but his football instincts were questioned even after he was drafted.
Casillas was signed by the Bucs as a free agent in 2013. He and Watson were pitted against each other after the career of former Bucs linebacker Quincy Black was ended due to injury in 2012.
The Bucs coaching staff selected Watson over Casillas prior to the start of the season but switched to Casillas near the halfway mark.
Casillas distinguished himself as one of the best special-teams players on the Bucs roster in 2013. He showed improvement over the course of the season but went down with a knee injury during the Bucs' Week 13 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Watson may have been phased out of the lineup through the midpoint of the season, but he came back in a big way when Casillas was lost for the season. He showed effectiveness not only as a run defender, but as a pass-rusher as well.
Both Casillas and Watson were special-teams standouts. Casillas was a beast in kick coverage, leading the team with 10 special-teams tackles. Watson was a special-teams game-changer, specializing in blocking punts.
Neither man sets the world on fire at the Sam linebacker position, but they're both young and still have upside. Their contributions on special teams alone should get them consideration for extensions.
Depth is an elusive asset for any NFL team. For two players who can be had for reasonable fares, the Bucs need to give Casillas and Watson extensions to stay with the team for a few more years.