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'Blindsided' Britt goes in fifth round to Tampa Bay Bucs

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Auburn Britt

American team linebacker KJ Britt of Auburn (33) celebrates after a defensive effort against the National team in the first half of the Reese's Senior Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, at Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile. (Mike Kittrell/AL.com)

In a role reversal of sorts, Auburn middle linebacker K.J. Britt, regarded as one of the SEC’s fiercest hitters, found himself blindsided Saturday afternoon.

The Tigers senior team captain betrayed surprise at being selected in the fifth round (176th overall) by the Bucs, whom he said interviewed him only once, at the Senior Bowl.

“I guess I just made a good impression there,” he said.

Britt, 21, hails from Oxford High, the same as former Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander, whom he said is a distant relative (Alexander’s grandmother is the aunt of Britt’s father). He also is a former Tigers teammate of current Bucs cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean.

Britt had his 2020 season limited to two games due to a thumb injury but earned second-team All-SEC honors (69 tackles, 10 for loss, 2.5 sacks) in 2019, his first full season as a starter.

“I wrote down, ‘violent,’ about five times on my scouting report on him,” said ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.

But Britt doesn’t project as an every-down linebacker, at least not immediately.

Britt, who graduated in December with a degree in supply-chain management, must make the obvious transition to Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ 3-4 scheme and almost certainly will be employed as a special-teams enforcer in the immediate future.

“It doesn’t matter what I play, I just want to be on the field,” he said. “I’m hungry, I’m eager to play. Not playing this year, it really had an effect on me mentally; as well as the draft, going in the fifth round. But it doesn’t matter, I just want to play football. I don’t care what I play.”