Dynasty Draft Profile: Kevin White
May 1, 2015 | Rich Hribar
|22.5||75||215||32 5/8||9 1/4|
Early dynasty draft circles pegged Amari Cooper and Todd Gurley as the consensus 1A and 1B picks in rookie drafts, but after Kevin White torched the combine and likely cemented himself as a top 10 selection in the NFL draft, he’s added his name to the mix for the top spot. While his agility and explosion were solid, the talk of the weekend was his 40-yard dash time that placed him in elite class when adjusted for his weight and height. For receivers 210 pounds and above, it places him amongst size and speed receivers like Julio Jones and everyone’s favorite combine punching bag, Stephen Hill. From a pure physical profile and final year production measures, these are his closest comparisons.
|Michael Floyd||Notre Dame||22.1||75||220||4.4||36.5||122||4.37||6.85||7.7||88.2||0.7|
|Kevin White||West Virginia||22.5||75||215||4.35||36.5||123||4.14||6.92||8.4||111.3||1.1|
Not bad company to keep as all three players were selected in the first 42 picks and Floyd and Edwards in the front half of the first round, right where we are anticipating White to be selected. Unlike those similar prospects who broke out early and carried their collegiate passing games, White has taken a road less traveled. He joined West Virginia after playing two JUCO seasons at Lackawanna College in Pennsylvania and after a pedestrian 2013 season, broke out in a big way this past year. This past season he finished third in the country in receptions and 6th in receiving yards while scoring double digit times through the air.
A lot has been made about whether his breakout should be treated with a grain of salt or encouragement. West Virginia was really terrible on offense in 2013, finishing 79th in points per game (26.3) with their quarterbacks combining for just 16 total touchdown passes while completing 54 percent of their passes in their first season post Geno Smith. In 2014, they jumped to 37th in points per game (33.5 points) with quarterbacks throwing 26 scores and completing 67 percent of their passes. While his 2013 market shares don’t show he was strictly hurt by the ineptitude of the offense, for a first year D1 player, there’s room to grade him a curve.
Since his 2014 was such a major jump though, I did want to go and look at massive breakouts in a player’s final college season and ones that may have vaulted that player into a premium draft spot. After all, no matter how much White’s combine impressed, his lofty production also is weighted into why he’s coveted. I pulled up every first round receiver in my database (since 1999) and of those 64 players, I compared their final season in college to the one prior to see if a significant change in a final season is really a red flag or not. I also added Amari Cooper with Kevin White to the list.
Below are the positive and negative changes in a receiver’s reception, yardage and touchdown total and how many subsequent top 30 scoring PPR seasons that the player has produced in the NFL. For the sake of the test, four players were omitted. Dez Bryant since he played in just three games his final season, Cordarrelle Patterson who played just one season at Tennessee, Matt Jones who converted to wide receiver (long live the Jaguars draft picks) entering the league and Sylvester Morris, who I just can’t find any collegiate statistical data on. All of the remaining players had no significant change in amount of games played from one year to their final one.
|Kevin White||West Virginia||2015||100||109||74||1447||940||10||5||0|
|Javon Walker||Florida State||2002||20||45||25||944||631||7||4||3|
|Brandin Cooks||Oregon State||2014||20||128||61||1730||579||16||11||0|
|Demaryius Thomas||Georgia Tech||2010||22||46||7||1154||527||8||5||3|
|Kelvin Benjamin||Florida State||2014||28||54||24||1011||516||15||11||1|
|Torry Holt||North Carolina State||1999||6||88||26||1604||505||11||-5||8|
|David Boston||Ohio State||1999||8||85||12||1435||465||13||-1||3|
|Troy Williamson||South Carolina||2005||7||43||12||835||407||7||5||0|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||Louisiana State||2014||12||57||14||1117||404||8||6||1|
|Anthony Gonzalez||Ohio State||2007||32||51||23||734||361||8||5||0|
|Michael Clayton||Louisiana State||2004||15||78||21||1079||330||10||5||1|
|Calvin Johnson||Georgia Tech||2007||2||76||22||1202||314||15||9||7|
|Troy Edwards||Louisiana Tech||1999||13||140||38||1996||289||27||14||0|
|Mike Evans||Texas A&M||2014||7||69||-13||1394||289||12||7||1|
|Dwayne Bowe||Louisiana State||2007||23||65||24||990||280||12||3||4|
|Hakeem Nicks||North Carolina||2009||29||68||-6||1222||264||12||7||2|
|Santonio Holmes||Ohio State||2006||25||53||-2||977||208||11||4||2|
|Koren Robinson||North Carolina State||2001||9||62||14||1061||208||13||11||2|
|Plaxico Burress||Michigan State||2000||8||66||1||1142||129||12||4||6|
|Michael Floyd||Notre Dame||2012||13||100||21||1147||122||9||-3||1|
|Tavon Austin||West Virginia||2013||8||114||13||1289||103||12||4||0|
|Bryant Johnson||Penn State||2003||17||48||-3||917||51||4||1||0|
|Tedd Ginn||Ohio State||2007||9||59||8||781||-22||9||5||0|
|R. Jay Soward||USC||2000||29||51||7||655||-24||4||-2||0|
|Charles Rogers||Michigan State||2003||2||68||1||1351||-119||13||-1||0|
|Michael Jenkins||Ohio State||2004||29||55||-6||834||-242||7||1||0|
|Justin Blackmon||Oklahoma State||2012||5||122||11||1522||-260||18||-2||1|
|Peter Warrick||Florida State||2000||4||71||10||934||-298||8||-4||1|
|Rashaun Woods||Oklahoma State||2004||30||77||-30||1367||-328||15||-2||0|
|Michael Crabtree||Texas Tech||2009||10||97||-37||1165||-797||19||-3||2|
I placed White and Cooper at the top of the list, but you can sort and filter the columns for yourself. The results are pretty scattershot depending on which areas the improvement was had. Of the 23 receivers whose touchdown totals raised five or more in their final season, just six went on to produce multiple top 30 seasons. Of the 14 players who had their yardage bump up 500 plus yards, six did the same and of the 12 who caught 25 or more passes, four had or have had multiple top 30 seasons.
White and Cooper fill all three buckets as well as six other players. Of those six, only Roddy White has had multiple top 30 seasons with the book still open on Cooks, Watkins and Kendall Wright. Because the results are so mixed and some cases are still undecided, I wouldn’t significantly conclude a major spike in production is a major red flag (declination does however) rather than one to acknowledge.
Looking at Cooper and White is interesting because although Cooper had a breakout season as an 18-year old freshman in 2012, his 2014 seen a larger jump in production from his previous season than White did. If we’re going to count Cooper’s age weighted production as a positive that separates him from White, then we can’t really knock White too far for his later breakout since Cooper’s apex season dwarfed prior season production on par with White’s 2014.
Negative context for White in regards to comparing raw 2014 totals to Cooper is that Cooper did more in a passing game that did less as a whole. The other knock on White’s production is that receivers attached to Dana Holgorsen have posted inflated receiving lines before due to the system and have been good athletes themselves, yet struggled in the NFL, at least in a fantasy results sense.
Here’s where the semantics of what is a bust draft pick or a bust player come into play. There were injuries and extracurricular activities that have forced Michael Crabtree and Justin Blackmon to be bust draft picks, but they have produced as players. Blackmon still can rehab his value in Jacksonville, but with Crabtree unlikely to be retained this offseason, San Francisco didn’t get positive return on their initial investment. Austin is the only true bust here in both aspects as he was an inferior producer to Bailey in college and even a comparable athlete outside of raw speed. While he still has time to carve out an NFL role, players that have produced to his level through two seasons rarely turn in significant fantasy careers.
That was a lot of ground covered in highlighting that I don’t view White’s production bump as a problem next level and I also believe Holgorsen’s system actually accentuates what White does well as a player. He is good in every aspect as a receiver and on every level of the defense versus all coverages. While his 40 time doesn’t always show up when he doesn’t have the ball, it definitely appears afterwards as he is strong in the small receiver game with speed and power.
White does struggle at times in his release and was turned away downfield with physical play from some good corners he faced this season (largely from the other Kevin White in this class), but when he does get a clean release, his straight line speed is a factor in creating separation on its own before leveraging in his stellar body control and attacking mentality.
I’m a sucker for big athletic receivers and touchdown production and White has that going for him in spades. He draws a plethora of downfield contact and plays through it often; resulting in either huge plays or drawing interference calls (he must draw close to a dozen interference calls on his cut ups alone).
White is comfortable finding pockets in zone coverage and paired with what he brings to the table in the small and big receiver game plus his red zone ability; he has the largest ceiling in this class of receivers. I still believe Cooper has more insulation surrounding him to warrant a selection over White, but it’s really the preference of two old adages between the two. For Cooper, he falls into the “you can’t go broke making a dollar” line of thought while White is in the “scared money doesn’t make money” philosophy when taking him first. I won’t fault anyone who takes White with the top selection.
By going to Chicago with supreme investment, White lands in a strong spot for immediate production. No matter your thoughts on Jay Cutler as a player, he gets an established quarterback while not being forced to be the focal point of the offense (and in turn, the defense) playing alongside Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett. The Bears lost a large part of their offense with the trade of Brandon Marshall (101 targets in 2014) and while Adam Gase will surely incorporate newly signed slot man Eddie Royal more than the shallow ball distribution of Marc Trestman, White stands to take over a large piece of that pie. A large part of that should show immediately as a red zone presence, where Marshall had 39 targets over the past two seasons (10th most in the league) to go alongside Jeffery. John Fox likely wants to run the football, but now in the high powered NFC North and paired with Gase, there will still be plenty of passing opportunities for White. Though I still prefer the age and production insulation of Amari Cooper, I would have no qualms if anyone has White over him on their board and will have him as my 1.02 rookie option.
Early 2015 Projection: 109.1 TGT/67.6 REC/872.5 YDS/6.1 TD