What does Kevin White bring to Bears offense?

We break down the strengths and weaknesses of Chicago’s first-round draft choice, West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White, who could have a significant Day-1 impact for the Bears.

With the seventh pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears selected West Virginia receiver Kevin White.

After a breakout senior year, the 6-3 target put himself in Top 10 considerations with an excellent scouting combine. White ran a 4.35 40-yard dash, while totaling 1,447 receiving yards off of 109 receptions.

The 22-year-old is a physical pass catcher that is not afraid to block and high points the majority of his catches.

Last night, White was quoted as saying, “I feel like if I’m there at 7, I think [the Bears] will pick me.”

He described his conversations with the coaching staff as “special” and when the pick was in, general manager Ryan Pace felt the same.

“This guy’s dynamic, he’s big, he’s strong, he’s ultra-competitive,” Pace said. “If I could stress one word for him, he’s ‘competitive.’ You see it after the catch. You see it in the way he attacks the ball in the air. This is a dynamic playmaker for our offense.”

The Bears lacked speed last year with both Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall on the outside and no legitimate slot receiver. White brings a good blend of size and speed. New offensive coordinator Adam Gase could opt to use the newest draft pick in the same role as Demaryius Thomas in Denver.

“I can tell you right now that the most excited guy in the building is Adam Gase,” said Pace. “This is good, guys. He’s a big-play weapon for us, competitive, tough player. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have him.”

Strengths:

- Unique blend of size and speed. Pace highlighted that as well: “I like his size. We've got two big receivers with Alshon as well, Eddie Royal can play in the slot, don't forget Marquess Wilson.”
- Long and well-built frame.
- The ability to consistently create separation and out-run the majority of defensive backs.
- Excellent and aggressive run blocking skills.
- Consistently high-points contested catches.
- Quick feet and good initial burst off the line-of-scrimmage.

Weakenesses:

- Only one year of top-notch production. First two years spent at JUCO.
- While he has good speed, he is not as elusive over the middle of the field or dodging tackles.
- Has the tendency to get called for holding penalties in the run game.

Overall Assessment

While he may not be the Day-1 player Amari Cooper is expected to be, White has one of the highest ceilings of anyone in the draft. With that being said, the one year of production leaves an element of the unknown that may have kept him out of the Top 5. White is a good athlete and has the ability to compliment Alshon Jeffery in Year 1 but may have a higher overall ceiling.

Pro Comparison: WR Larry Fitzgerald.

Why take White over Vic Beasley or Alvin Dupree?

The best answer is a combination of best-player-available and biggest need. Beasley may have been the better overall talent but scheme fit could have been the main issue. He was simply not the better option. Beasley’s size was in question according to multiple scouts and new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio seems to value bigger and more versatile pass rushers.

Dupree was simply not a better pick than either player, especially from a first-year standpoint. He provided the prototypical size that Fangio looks for in his pass rushers but may have not had a Top 10 grade from Pace.

Can White “replace” Brandon Marshall?

In Year 1, the chances are slim but from a talent standpoint, White is in the same conversation, with better overall athletic ability. Marshall presented a more-than-reliable target and a constant safety blanket for Jay Cutler.

It will take time for White to earn Cutler’s trust but the seventh overall pick will be able to stretch the field and keep an overloaded amount of focus away from Jeffery.

So the short answer is, no he can’t “replace” Marshall in 2015 but after his rookie year, he has a chance to take over the top receiving duties.

A few takeaways from Pace’s round-one press conference

Is Kevin White raw? Pace didn’t seem to think so:

“When I hear that – and I did a lot a lot of work on that – you think about a receiver when you hear the word ‘raw’ and you think maybe route quickness or those things. At West Virginia his route variety sometimes you question. I saw every route I needed to see from that player.

“One of the most difficult routes for a receiver to run is a comeback route. You see that from him. You see it at his pro day. You see it at his workout. If you watch enough film on him, you see all that. This guy is a special athlete. For his size, he’s big, he runs 4.3, he’s strong after the catch, and he’s a physical blocker. He really checks all the boxes you’re looking for in a receiver in our offense.”

Pace somewhat dodged the question on attempting to trade Jay Cutler to the Titans for a chance to select Marcus Mariota:

“In my mind, we just got Jay another dynamic weapon. That’s what I’m excited about it. I hope right now he’s fired up because we just gave him another powerful weapon. With this receiving corps, this only adds to Jay’s ability to distribute the ball.”

Expectation for White’s rookie year:

“I don’t want to put a label on that right now. This guy, I mean, first of all, like I said, after the catch he’s dynamic. He’s got great hands. He’s strong. He’s big. He can run. He checks all the boxes. I don’t want to put an expectation on him right now. But we’re thrilled about this and how Adam Gase will integrate him into the offense. There are a lot of creative things we can do with him. I’m excited. I can’t wait for you guys to see him live, too.”

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Aaron Leming has years of salary cap knowledge and has written for Rant Sports, Bears Draft On Tap, and Cover 32. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report.

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