New York Jets 2019 NFL Draft Profile: LB Devin White
By Justin Fried
Here’s our 2019 NFL Draft profile for LSU linebacker Devin White breaking down his strengths, weaknesses, video highlights, and New York Jets draft prediction.
With every passing year, it seems that the linebacker position continues to evolve to the point where so-called “athletic freaks” are just the norm. That said, this year’s athletic freak of a linebacker prospect is none other than LSU’s Devin White.
White is expected to be one of the first players selected in the 2019 NFL Draft and is the consensus top linebacker on essentially every draft board. Standing at six feet tall and weighing in at 240 pounds, White’s rise from gifted, but raw athlete to one of the best linebackers in the country has been fun to watch over the past couple years.
The LSU product assumed a starting position during his sophomore season in 2017 and it didn’t take long for him to make an impact. White finished the year with 133 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and an interception leading the SEC in total tackles.
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Although his numbers dipped slightly in 2018, his play improved dramatically. White became a more refined prospect and was awarded the Butkus Award given to the nation’s top linebacker. On top of that, he was named a Consensus All-American joining fellow Tigers Grant Delpit and Greedy Williams.
White should hear his name called very early come late April but for now, let’s take a look at his strengths and weaknesses as a player.
Even in today’s NFL, you aren’t going to find many individuals that are better athletes at the linebacker position than White. His sideline-to-sideline range is unmatched by most and his lateral quickness makes him the most agile linebacker in this class.
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White’s speed and quickness allow him to effectively shoot gaps and make plays behind the line of scrimmage regularly. His suddenness allows him to often beat pulling guards to the spot using his strength to blow past late-arriving linemen.
On top of that, White’s impressive build allows him to effectively shed blocks, something other athletic linebackers tend to struggles with (think Darron Lee). Unlike Lee and so many others, White is well-built and uses his physicality to shed blocks and tackle efficiently.
The most improved part of White’s game has been his mental processing. In 2017, White was clearly a bit hesitant with his processing and couldn’t make full use of his athleticism as a result. But in his junior season, White took a big step forward indicating continued improvement once he reaches the pros.
Although it has improved significantly, White’s football intelligence still serves as the biggest flaw in his game. The former high school running back is sometimes a step or two behind where he needs to be as he doesn’t process the play in front of him quick enough.
Even the slightest hesitation can throw off an entire play and White sometimes has difficulty with that aspect of his game.
Elsewhere, White can oftentimes find himself off balance with tackling attempts. Sometimes his athleticism can get the best of him as he’ll overrun plays from time to time. White will need to learn to better harness his speed at the next level.
White also isn’t the most accomplished pass coverage linebacker. Although it is far from the biggest weakness in his game, White struggled a bit in zone coverage while at LSU especially when covering the middle of the field in the Cover 2. His tape shows that he would lock eyes with the quarterback and often play too shallow leaving the middle of the field open.
NEW YORK JETS PREDICTION
Ultimately, it’s hard to envision any feasible scenario where the New York Jets select Devin White. Despite his talent, off-ball linebacker is one area that the Jets are good at with the aforementioned Darron Lee and Avery Williamson manning the middle of the defense.
Still, White is going to make some team very happy, likely in the top 10 of the 2019 NFL Draft.
A team such as the Cincinnati Bengals could be a perfect fit for White as they will be looking to add a young, athletic linebacker to their defense. Unfortunately, they will be selecting 11th overall and White may not last that long.
Perhaps the Oakland Raiders will even give him a look with the No. 4 overall selection as they have been searching for a true rangy middle linebacker for years now.
Wherever he lands, White has Pro Bowl potential and should waste no time becoming an impact player on any defense he is put in. In terms of true talent, he’s probably a top-5 player in this draft class.