Devin White had himself one hell of a resume game against the Gators. What in the heck is a resume game? When you attend any scouting functions (the Shrine Game, the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine, etc.) one of the things you will consistently hear players asked is: "What is your best game?"
Straight from the horse's mouth, getting a specific set of film to watch can be valuable. Does the player's thoughts align with your own? Does the player have a strong perception of himself and his performance? What about his view of his strengths and where he can shine on the field?
Provided LSU linebacker Devin White declares for the 2019 NFL Draft, his answer to the question "what is your best game?" could very easily be "Florida, 2018."
Devin White was spectacular in this football game! White illustrated many of the traits that should make him a very early draft selection when his time comes.
Prior to the fall, I took time to watch Devin White on film and liked what I saw. White illustrated explosion, short area agility and violence as a hitter. Plus he was pretty freaking good on the blitz, too. Here's an example I unearthed from Auburn (2017).
Notice how White gets skinny late in the gap? That ability to diminish surface area and play through contact is essential to beating blocks.
A few things I wanted to see White get better at in 2018?
- Breaking down and finishing tackles
- Being more decisive and assertive in processing the play
Fast forward to Saturday's loss to the Florida Gators in Gainesville. The Gators scored 27 points but you can't blame them all on White. With 9 total tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss, the presence in the middle of the field was strong for Devin.
What Makes A First Round Linebacker?
Before I continue, I think it's important to outline what makes a first round linebacker in today's NFL:
- Sideline to sideline speed
- 3 down ability
- Reliable tackling
White vs. Florida
So with that in mind, I ask you this...does this look like sideline to sideline range to you?
This is terrific! The decision to drive on the outside run and White's explosiveness carry him directly over the top of the line of scrimmage and into the hip of RB Jordan Scarlett. This is what backside linebacker pursuit looks like in textbooks.
(Or at least it would if there were textbooks on such a subject, but I digress.)
How about three down ability?
Much like the blitz we saw from White against Auburn (2017), this is effective timing and understanding of plays you can and can't make based on your athletic ability.
Later in the game, White had a chance to illustrate some short yardage value with a decisive and quick decision to drive into the A-gap on a QB run.
Yes! This is how you want to see a linebacker attack when the offensive linemen in front of his face don't step up but rather step down. White flies into the gap and meets Franks to prevent a 1st down in an illustration again of textbook confidence.
How about dealing with contact? Anyone can make a play when they aren't touched, right?
Oh. Well then. It would appear as though Devin White had this box checked against Florida, too. Going forward, I want to see this level of play from White the rest of the way.
If he can sustain this with consistency, look out. You've got a top-20 overall pick on your hands. Especially with league trends trying to run out of the nickel defense. The additional defensive back puts more pressure on the linebackers to handle duties both in the box and in space.
As White has shown, that's right up his alley.