What the Film Shows
It is easy to see the parts of White’s game that evaluators have fallen in love with. He has game-breaking speed, with the potential to get to the yard on any given play. White shows good body control on a balls thrown both high and low, setting himself up to make difficult catches and making him an instant threat in the red zone. Overall, his hands look trustworthy, but he has not been challenged a ton, and there are few “highlight” catches on tape. The New Jersey native is a willing and effective blocker in the run game. This fits his demeanor as a competitor, which is visible on tape.
For as much as there is to like about White’s pure talent, there are plenty of things that will need work at the next level, primarily his route running. Evaluators have mentioned his improved knowledge of the route tree, but it is not evident on film as he runs primarily screens. White tends to round off his routes, which can lead to interceptions. He also struggles to create separation despite his prodigious speed.
What His Numbers Say
Again, in case you haven’t read my report on Amari Cooper, I tend to favor market share numbers over raw statistics when evaluating receivers. As a transfer from Lackawanna College, White only has two seasons worth of data at West Virginia. In those two seasons, it appears as though he was consistent getting the ball into the end zone, recording 38% of the Mountaineers receiving touchdowns over his career. He had a very late breakout age as a senior, making it fair to wonder how he would have produced had he started his career in Morgantown. Overall, White’s statistical profile is nothing to write home about.
What His Measurables Reflect
This is where White gets to really flaunt his stuff. His 4.35 40 yard dash time was exceedingly impressive, especially at 6’3″ and 215 pounds. White also was above average in the jumping and agility drills, but nothing too crazy. He definitely had one of the better combine performances of 2015.
Player Comparison: Cordarrelle Patterson
This is immediately going to come off like I am “hating” on White considering Patterson’s low level of success thus far in the NFL, but if you watch the tape and consider the backgrounds of both players, you can see that the similarities are there. Both players are elite speedsters in bigger frames and were used a lot in ways that kept their feet on the ground (screens, designed runs, etc.). Patterson was already 22 when he heard his name called at the draft, and White will be about 9 months older when it is his turn to come to the stage (both players were also transfers to their BCS colleges). All of that said, White is clearly farther along in his development than Patterson was at this stage, and is a superior prospect.
Ideal Landing Spot: Anywhere But Oakland
I am saying this somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but is there a mock drafter in the country right now that doesn’t think White will be wearing the black and silver come May? Height/Weight/Speed guys have always been the soup du jour for Oakland, and the team happens to have a desperate need at receiver. Having drafted Derek Carr last season, the team needs to surround him with weapons, and appear to also be interested in signing Randall Cobb.
In all honesty, the Raiders may not end up being a bad spot for White. He would have a chance to become Carr’s favorite target and grow in tandem with the young quarterback. Furthermore, the team is looking to add more up-tempo concepts to their offense and just so happens to have a quarterback who ran an up-tempo system that involved a lot of receiver screens while at Fresno State. Sound familiar? It is easy to fear the idea of any young athlete going to the Black Hole, but there are very few places that would allow for a rookie to accumulate a large market share of targets, and Oakland is one of them.
Current Rookie Draft Projection (Fantasy): Top 3
If I was to survey the fantasy community and ask for a mock draft of the first round for rookie drafts, I would bet that White, Cooper, and Todd Gurley would be the top 3 picks, in some order, in most of them. If White is the first receiver chosen I think there will be a good amount of drafters that would be willing to take him first overall. Receivers typically get a bump in dynasty leagues due to their longevity so if he ends up in a good spot, or if the other receivers/backs end up in bad spots, he will probably be solidified in the top 2 of many drafts. I have a hard time believing that there won’t be someone in that range of drafts in every league that loves White, his speed, and his dreads.
I am definitely not as sold on White as many seem to be in the football community. The raw talent is there, but I think that he is just that as a prospect: raw. When I couple that with the fact that he is much older than other prospects (a full two years older than Cooper), I have a hard time falling in love with him. That said, if he works hard to become a better route runner, he has the talent and competitive fire to reach what is a very high ceiling. However I think that if we are discussing White as a potential top 5 pick in the NFL Draft, there is a lot of downside that is being ignored.
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