2015 NFL Combine Watch List; Part 1: Wide Receiver

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Oct 18, 2014; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Kevin White (11) leaps to make a catch during the fourth quarter against the Baylor Bears at Milan Puskar Stadium. West Virginia Mountaineers defeated Baylor Bears 41-27. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin White, West Virginia

Kevin White, who was recently profiled by this author, is an enticing prospect who has the potential of supplanting Cooper as the top wideout on a lot of NFL draft boards if he turns in a strong Combine performance.

White, who is taller and heavier than Cooper, turned in elite numbers of his own in 2014, including a very strong performance against Alabama in the season opener, and despite issues at quarterback for West Virginia late in the season. White, who is listed at 6’3″, will likely stay 6’3″ after the NFL measures him, and at 6’3″ doesn’t necessarily need to show great arm length. While scouts will take note of his vertical numbers, he is on tape showing a 54″ box jump so even a bad performance in that event won’t hurt White too much. What scouts WILL want to see from White is speed:

1. 40-yard dash: White is big, can jump high, runs pretty good routes, gets good separation, and can close in on and catch a ball at the right spot, showing great body control. What scouts can’t figure out from watching Kevin White on tape is, how fast is he? White can elevate on draft boards with a strong performance in the 40-yard dash. Some analysts and scouts have White’s time projected as anything from 4.48 to as slow as 4.62, which though only a difference of 0.14 of a second, is the difference between having a step on a cornerback or being covered. White will want to show strong here, as NFL cornerbacks are much faster than your average Big-12 corner. If White can show near the low end of his projected range – say in the 4.48 – 4.53 zone, he can shoot right up a draft board. A 6’3″210 pound man who can run a 4.5 second 40-yard dash can do a lot of damage on the perimeter of defenses: Alshon Jeffrey of the Bears is of a similar profile.

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  • 2. Sideline tap: White has demonstrated great body control in college, but NFL evaluators will want to be sure he can make tough sideline catches and keep both feet in bounds at the next level. The sideline tap drill is designed to show exactly that: the wideout heads toward the sideline, where the quarterback (a QB prospect is usually throwing) puts the ball right at the boundary. The receiver must secure the catch and tap the back foot down, as he would need to do in a live NFL game in order to be ruled in bounds. While the drill doesn’t always show the ability of a receiver to keep both feet in on a leaping catch – which White would be expected to do quite a bit as a jump-ball receiver – it will show that he has the basic body control to make the routine sideline catch.

    3. Three-Cone drill: The three-cone drill is a classic football drill, designed to test one of the most important abilities of nearly any player on a football field: ability to quickly change direction and move your feet rapidly in a small area. While the 40-yard dash is cool, even a wide receiver might run 40 yards in a straight line once or twice per game, at most. Meanwhile, he will be asked to change direction rapidly and come out of breaks quickly on nearly every passing play.

    White, who is big and strong and jumps high, has shown a bit of a schizophrenic nature with his feet. He excels at creating space by taking quick jab steps before exploding downfield on deep routes, and can at times break quickly on a deep in or a comeback pattern. On the other hand, he also has a nasty tendency of breaking his feet down too long going into a break, allowing a defensive back to see what’s happening and recover and even break on the ball.

    While college DB’s aren’t always able to seal the deal, an NFL corner will eat him alive if he does that. The three-cone drill could be a huge factor in White’s final positioning, as it will tell evaluators if his sometimes spotty footwork is something that can be coached out of him, or if he simply just has clumsy feet. In an added plus, if White prepares hard for this drill, he is also improving his ability to actually play football next year, something you can’t say about working on 40 times.

    Next: WR to Watch: Jaelen Strong