NFL Draft Preview 2015: WR Kevin White
This is today’s edition of our new daily feature: a look at NFL prospects ahead of the 2015 Draft. Each week, we will analyze our top 5 prospects at each position, one per day. This first week, we will be looking at incoming wide receivers. Today’s wide receiver is Kevin White out of West Virginia.
After transferring from Lackawanna College (PA), Kevin White enrolled at the University of West Virginia his junior year. His debut season with the Mountaineers was solid, as the 6'3, 210 lbs. receiver hauled in 35 catches for 507 yards and 5 TD's in 10 games. However, after becoming WVU's go-to guy his senior year, White was able to showcase his superior talents on the outside. White was a nationally recognized wideout in 2014, catching 109 balls (3rd in the nation), totaling 1,447 yards and 10 TD's in 13 games, while his 13.3 YPC was 5th-best for receivers with at least 90 catches. A Biletnikoff finalist, White finished his career as the school's 8th-leading receiver in only 23 games.
White's most notable assets are his extremely strong hands, and he uses them at every turn, almost never letting the ball get to his body. His tape also shows that he's an elite jumper, and can high-point the ball as well, if not better than any receiver in this draft class. At the line of scrimmage, he's hard to jam, which is because he releases off the snap with a purpose.
White also improvises well, meaning when the play breaks down, he has a knack for finding soft spots in coverage. With the ball in his hands, he's a terror to tackle, as he has above-average lateral quickness mixed with a bully-like attitude when running downfield. In the games studied, White is as sure-handed a receiver as there is, and is just as good in traffic as he is over the top of defenses.
White has a great motor, but on occasion, he looks disinterested as a blocker. At West Virginia, he was limited in the types of routes he ran, seeing a lot of 9-routes mixed with hooks and crosses. He'll need to develop a more advanced arsenal at the next level.
White is a sure-fire mid first-round selection, and with receiver being such a need in the evolving downfield NFL game, he could even find himself cracking the top ten. Alabama's Amari Cooper is a different type of receiver than White, as he'll most likely be battling with Louisville's DeVante Parker for teams looking to a draft bigger, stronger pass catcher, which has turned into the model for success.
Even early in the process, a lot of experts are tabbing White anywhere from 10-12, as the Rams, Vikings and Browns are all in desperate need of a lengthy yet sturdy receiver. I'm in agreement with the range, and the best fit of those three teams, as of this moment, is Cleveland. Josh Gordon is facing a heck of a journey back to the NFL, tight end Jordan Cameron is an impending free-agent unlikely to return, and Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel are solid, but are better suited as underneath, complimentary receivers. White could step in immediately and be a solid producer, while his size and catching ability also make him a day one redzone threat. Whoever is at quarterback for Cleveland, they'll need a receiver that fits the new breed of wideout NFL teams covet, and White is exactly that.