There are several people out there who would take West Virginia's Kevin White over Alabama's Amari Cooper as the top wide receiver in this class and, while I think Cooper is comfortably the top guy, I can understand that line of thinking. He has the size that people look for in what is considered the prototypical No. 1 receiver these days and at times was a truly dominant receiver in college.
He graded well, if not spectacularly in CFF in 2014, but did we see enough to think he can become a better NFL receiver than Cooper, justifying a team taking him in the top five picks in the NFL Draft?
White finished the year as the 18th-highest graded receiver in this draft class, but he began the season in dominant form before slipping away at the end of the year. In fact, from Weeks 1 to 11 he had just one negatively-graded game, while his final three games all earned negatives.
Dropping six passes in the final two games alone, after dropping just three the rest of the year, it was definitely a frustrating end to his college career. Still, it's hard not to be impressed with the majority of his 2014 season, which saw him rack up 120 yards or more in five consecutive games between Week 3 and Week 8.
Overview & Stats
What pops out the moment you watch White on film is that he does indeed have the look that we've come to know and expect from a top receiver. At 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds, and a sub 4.4 40-yard dash time, it's easy to see why so many are drooling over White's potential.
He pulled in seven touchdowns on passes traveling 20 yards or more through the air this past season, second in the class to Ohio State's Devin Smith. Again that adds to White's appeal and when you combine his size, speed, and big play ability, it's not surprising that some view him as the top receiver in this class.
He's strong enough to beat press coverage at the line of scrimmage, while having nifty enough footwork to shake himself a free release at the line of scrimmage, too. His strength is an asset when the ball is in his hands, and he's more than capable of dragging a defensive back for extra yards after the catch if they don't wrap him up well.
So, if all of this is true, why isn't he as good as Cooper?
White was a reliable target for his quarterback in 2014, seeing a QB Rating of 104.3 on all passes thrown his way and, despite his nine drops, they came of a high enough number of catchable targets that he still finished the year with a Drop Rate of 7.63. That's not necessarily a great number, but it still saw him rank 19th amongst the 43 draft eligible receivers with enough targets.
Well, for one it's not a slight on him that we have him a step behind Cooper because, as Sam Monson will explain in Cooper's player profile, we really like the Alabama prospect. White is right there with Louisville's DeVante Parker as the second- and third-best wide receivers in this class, with both looking worthy of being drafted in the first round.
There's no doubt that White will provide some challenges to NFL cornerbacks from Day 1, such is his ability to get downfield and his impressive blend or size, speed and power, but he does still require a bit of refinement. As good as he looks on go routes, and he looks very good on those, his footwork can sometimes be a little bit sloppy and obvious on shorter routes like hitches. If he can learn to make his cuts a little cleaner, he's going to find himself in more space, with the ability to run at defensive backs, which should lead to plenty of broken tackles and additional yards after the catch.
Arguably the most physically gifted wide receiver in this draft class, I can see why some would take him over Cooper. You could make the case that his ceiling is higher than that of the Alabama standout, but Cooper just seems like the safer bet. Still, it's hard to not be excited at what White can add to plenty of offenses around the league, so somebody is likely to take a chance on him before too many other players are off the board come draft day.
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