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Breaking down Kevin White: Is a WR worth it in the 1st round?

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Looking at a player who will be tempting for the Chargers if he is available at pick 17

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers enter the offseason needing one and possibly two receivers. In a perfect world, they'd add a playmaker that can get vertical, but also excels at underneath routes while winning contested situations. Seems like a lot to ask for, but that also describes West Virginia's Kevin White. White is listed at 6'3", 210 pounds and his 109-catch season showed that he can win in a variety of ways.

Ball Skills

You don't have to watch long to realize that White already has superior ball skills than most NFL receivers. Whether it's adjusting to a poorly thrown ball and digging it out of the dirt, or high pointing a pass over two defenders and coming down with it, White's shown he can make the spectacular catch look routine.

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White's ability to win in traffic and catch the ball away from his body is special. It sounds simple, but he also knows exactly when to time his jump for 50/50 balls, and at his size it allows him to high-point and win those passes. For reference, that's an area where Keenan Allen struggles.

Route Running

White's route running skills are very good. While White isn't a burner, he can get vertical by winning early on in the route. Whether it's keeping himself clean of the DB and pulling away:

Or winning at the line of scrimmage with impressive footwork.

When White proves he can win vertically, that's when he's at his most dangerous. The defender has to respect him deep and he will eat you alive on underneath routes. Here's a stat that's pretty mind blowing; White drew eleven pass interference calls in his first seven games. White does a good job of changing speeds in his route and it allows him to get open at all levels of the field.

Areas For Improvement

I mentioned how impressive White's route running skills were, but that comes with a caveat. There are times when defenders are able to beat him to the catch point. In contested catching situations, in the five games that I saw, White was 7/15.

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Rule #2 for a receiver is never let a DB cross your face or beat you to the spot of the ball. This just shows that White isn't a finished product. It'll be something that he'll need to improve on.

Another area where White can improve is his "true speed." He can get vertical by using jab steps, a hesitation move to throw the defender off, but he's not just going to run right by you. White did show that he can hit another gear and take off once the ball is in his hands, however.

Grade

Multiple Pro Bowl Player, Top 10 8.5 – 9.0
Highly Productive Starter, 1st Round 8.0 – 8.4
Very Good Starter, Early 2nd Round 7.8 – 7.9
Reliable Starter, 2nd Round 7.5 – 7.7
Potential Starter in Year 2, 3rd Round 7.0 – 7.4
Backup/Spot Starter, 4th Round 6.5 – 6.9
Productive Backup, 5th Round 6.0 – 6.4
Very Good Backup/STs, 6th Round 5.5 – 5.9
Quality Backup/Good STs, 7th Round 5.0 – 5.4
Backup/STs/Project Player, 7th Round 4.5 – 4.9
Priority Free Agent w/ Limitations 4.0 – 4.4
Non-Draftable 4.0

Route Running 4 3.7
Hands 3 2.8
Ball Skills 3 3
Separation Skills 2.5 2.2
Speed 2.5 2.1
YAC Ability 2 1.7
Athleticism 2 1.9
Versatility 2 1.7
Awareness 2 1.9
Blocking 2 1.8

White grades out to an 8.21. He has very good hands and they're strong. If he gets his hands on the pass, there's a good chance he's coming down with it. His ability to make plays on the ball in the air will help him contribute in the NFL right away. Sure, he's not going to run in the 4.3's, but White's athleticism is very intriguing. He is quick enough to make you miss and strong enough to run through arm tackles. Wherever he ends up, White will be a very reliable target with big play potential. If I were investing in him high, I'd want to double check to make sure White can finish plays through contact.

How He Fits as a Charger

He'll be tempting for the Chargers at 17. If they want him, that's where they'll have to select him. White could give you instant production across from Keenan Allen, as well as give you a deep ball target. White checks a lot of the boxes and might  even be better than I'm leading on. That 7/15 number on contested catches is hard for me to get around, and that is the 1 reason I couldn't co-sign him at 17. I'd love to see improvements from this at the Senior Bowl.