NAME: Devin White
JERSEY: No. 40
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 240 lbs
Football Intelligence –Discipline and confidence in reads grew in 2018 as a junior. Much more confident to step with anticipation and use his lateral mobility to get over top of runs and get square on his challenges. Lapses or delay in reaction is still present but much less frequent.
Tackling –Needs to come to balance prior to challenging the ball carrier, can overrun his target and allow cut-backs into the field. Terrific when he gets a wrap on you or a set of pads. Runs the feet, is violent with his finishes. (Has come high, contacted the face gear on a few occasions.)
Block Shedding –Stout. Drops the hips and explodes through his contact to reset ground and negate forward momentum by blockers. Does well to extend the hands and get himself clear for a lateral scrape or disengage. Effective with his hands to deliver a blow and not get swallowed up.
Competitive Toughness –Imposing presence in the middle of the field. Prowls the tackle box and is rarely caught unprepared for contact or unable to stun blockers before chasing the ball. His range is spectacular and his effort to rally to the football is admirable.
Lateral Mobility –True sideline to sideline player with elite speed, particularly for his stature. Will have no issue playing a true MIKE role in the NFL. Does well in his scrapes to gain ground into the LOS and not catch ball carriers five+ yards down the field.
Coverage Skills –Zone coverage option in the underneath areas. He’s got some range to him as well, courtesy of length and spring to attack the football in the air. Doesn’t collision routes crossing his face, would like to see some more attention to the fine details of maximizing his impact in space.
Gap Shooting Ability –Very sudden. Mass poses challenge for combo blocks or late flashing blockers to knock him off of his trajectory. Will barrel through a late block challenge and rip clear into the backfield. Has suddenness from the second level and often beats his man to the spot.
Feet/Change of Direction –Has excellent short area quickness, has ability to quickly work over the top of a block. Does need to clean up his feet when he’s forced to slide along the LOS, can be too eager to open his hips and open up cut back lanes. Issues are technical, not physical limitations.
Flexibility –Has good linear mobility to drop his hips and get under blockers. Has necessary mobility through his hips to hinge and open for scraping vs. the run or getting shallow landmarks in zone coverage. Only modest ability to flip open and carry if challenged vertically in pass coverage.
First Step Quickness –Has very good track record as a blitzer and second level pressure player. Wins with momentum, has great spring to suddenly arrive in a gap after aligning several yards off the ball. Speed with a runway can provide devastating results for opposing QBs or stationary targets.
BEST TRAIT – Competitive Toughness
WORST TRAIT – Contact Balance
BEST FILM – Georgia (2018)
WORST FILM – Alabama (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
Devin White has the ceiling of a star in the NFL. White’s explosive range, hitting power and explosiveness compliment a sturdy frame and some awesome reps of reads at the LOS. The contact balance issues with White may scare some teams, but provided he’s able to square up his challenges with more consistency it’s difficult to project anything less than Pro Bowls in his future. White plays through contact and trash well, he’s a viable starter in any system.
Coverage – Glides through space and has the burst to rapidly work into throwing lanes if he can read the quarterback and respond quickly enough. Has the movement skills to carry running backs and tight ends into space. Doesn’t feature a natural feel for coverage spacing or anticipate routes effectively. Physical ability is present but the mental side needs work.
Tackling – Urgent and aggressive pursuer of the football but it can work against him. Has issues coming to balance and squaring up the ball carrier. Is guilty of going for a big hit and failing to wrap up. Hitting power is outstanding but he isn’t square or under control enough. Peaks are really exciting but he must become more consistent.
Blocks – Often plays through a straw and gets hung up in traffic. Has impressive flashes of scraping over the top/undercutting blocks but can also be swallowed up. Needs to be more consistently aggressive with his hands when taking on blocks to stack and shed. Slow processing skills exacerbate his deficiencies.
Physicality – Aggressive player who isn’t afraid to lay the wood. Can be a violent finisher and pursues the football with bad intentions. Is only only over-matched when he fails to be aware of pending contact which unfortunately happens too often.
Motor – Is a high-urgency football player that will stick his face in a fan and like it. Is a tone-setting presence on the second level. Works hard in pursuit and chases plays down from distance regularly. Developing more technique for defeating blocks will help him take advantage of his hot motor. Not immune to an occasional lackadaisical rep.
Processing – Made strides in 2018 compared to 2017 but he is still a work in progress. Tape features a mixed bag of slow reads, incorrect reads and some confident/correct reads. Route anticipation and zone awareness need improvement. Easily manipulated by play fakes and keeps the door open for cut back opportunities.
Range – Can make plays from sideline to sideline. Explosive mover with a spring in his step. Fluid with excellent burst that can fill windows and cover ground in a hurry. Features the ideal physical skill set to counter today’s space and pace NFL offenses.
Flexibility – Changes directions and turns corners with ease. Extremely loose in his hips and ankles. Is often used as a blitzer and easily works to the edges of blocks and corners. Fluid with his transitions and glides through space when sinking in coverage. Lateral mobility is impressive.
Versatility – Built like a 4-3 MIKE linebacker but doesn’t have the processing skills or consistency playing downhill to be reliable at this point in his development. His best course to seeing the field early in his career comes as a pursuit-style WILL in a 4-3. Has all the physical ability needed to be an ever down playmaker in the NFL.
BEST TRAIT – Range
WORST TRAIT – Processing
RED FLAGS – None
White has all the physical attributes to be a dynamic playmaker at the next level. His burst, play strength, size and aggressive mentality are exciting traits but he does need more work on the mental side of the game to make an impact. While strides were made when comparing his 2017 film to 2018, there are still too many processing errors that take him out of plays. In addition, White is inconsistent sifting through traffic and with his technique for taking on blocks. If he can become a better processor with better spatial awareness, White can be an every down star in the NFL.
Key & Diagnose – Wish he was more consistent in this area, but improved significantly from a year ago. Plays forward on the balls of his feet, showing typically good vision to find and track the football while also processing his keys. Explosive triggers forward when his windows open up front. Does an excellent job of IDing pullers and playing them with proper pace to the playside.
Range – Outstanding range from the core of the formation to the sideline. Can open up and run, showing an explosive start and good speed to cover ground quickly. Rarely out-flanked when he get a clean path to the perimeter. Also has the range to make plays behind the line of scrimmage when he blasts through gaps.
Tackling/Finishing – His most frustrating area to evaluate on tape. Has flashed the ability to lay the wood, but rarely opts to run through targets and instead leaves his feet to attempt flying tackles. Targets up high and tries to swing ball carriers down rather than drive through them. Has the strength to get runners to the ground in this way, but will slide off ball carriers who have some momentum moving forward too. Biggest issues come in space, where he struggled to throttle down and come to balance, overrunning a bunch of potential tackles last season. Gets cut back on a lot.
Coverage – Most of his coverage assignments were relatively simple in the games I watched, varying from middle zone to flat coverage, but vs Georgia he was asked to carry Isaac Nauta vertically twice and blanketed the tight end. He also gave up a back-shoulder catch on one of those reps, as finding the football and making plays on it really isn’t his forte yet. Upside is real, has all the traits, just might not be a splash play guy in this area.
Block Deconstruction – Much more successful playing off and around contact than he is stacking-and-shedding. That’s not uncommon for linebackers, but White’s ability to discard contact quickly when moving laterally while keeping his eyes on the ball is a great strength. When blockers get to him first at the second level, can get pinned down a lot easier.
Change of Direction – Very smooth change of direction. Athleticism is impressive and has explosive movement skills in all directions. Biggest issue in his change-of-direction isn’t his athleticism, it’s his proclivity for overshooting his mark and then having to bounce back the other way when a runner cuts back on him.
Competitive Toughness – Described by many around the program as a leader. Does have some inconsistencies in his physicality that are odd at times, but competes hard on tape. Ed Orgeron described him as the “ultimate team player”. Carries himself with a swagger on and off the field.
Pass Rush – Traits are elite for a pass-rushing off-ball linebacker, outstanding explosiveness and eye-popping flexibility to dip under contact and turn tight paths to the quarterback. As an interior blitzer will run full bore into blockers with very little plan at times. Gets hung up on blocks too easily trying to get through the A-gaps.
Discipline – Fairly disciplined player who is assignment sound in coverage and won’t freelance. Can get caught watching backfield motion at times in run defense, but typically follows his keys and won’t cheat assignments to do more than his job.
Athleticism/Size – Perfect size and build for the linebacker position. Rocked up frame that is pro-ready. Should test at a high level, impressive athlete in every sense on tape.
BEST TRAIT – Range
WORST TRAIT – Tackling
RED FLAGS – None
Physically and athletically it is pretty easy to get excited about Devin White, but what impressed me the most was watching him process and attack as a run defender, especially in games against Florida and even Auburn at times. Unfortunately, he’s not totally consistent in that area just yet, and his tackling woes are a significant concern that could limit his early impact at the next level.
Still, White’s character, tools and recent growth all indicate a player worth taking a small risk on. He’s not Jarrad Davis. This is a far more talented player with more consistent execution on the field. An NFL coaching staff will need to continue his development from the neck up, but his tape suggests a player capable of being a quality starting middle linebacker in the NFL.