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Devin White Checks All the Boxes

By Dave Holcomb
SouthernPigskin.com
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All indications point to White being a Top 10 selection in the 2019 draft.

To the NFL fan who doesn’t take in a ton of college football, linebacker Devin White may be known as “that defender from LSU” who was suspended for the first half against Alabama. But this spring, he’s about to earn the reputation as the best linebacker available in the 2019 NFL Draft.

White has all the characteristics of a prototypical modern-day NFL linebacker, and there isn’t a likely scenario where he falls out of the Top 11 in the first round.

On his way to making the All-SEC team, White posted 123 total tackles, including 12.0 for loss, and 3.0 sacks. He also recorded six pass breakups, eight quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles.

As those numbers indicate, White can play run defense, cover and blitz. Walter Football says he will be able to transition into an impactful player quickly in either a 3-4 or 4-3 base defense.

White is worthy of being a top-20 pick in any draft class due to likely being a difference-maker as a three-down starter in the NFL. He is a good fit in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. He should be a starter quickly in his NFL career and could be a Pro Bowler early in his pro career.

I’m not a huge fan of comparing players in the draft to already established NFL stars. All too often, fans will hear the comparison and mistakenly place unfair expectations on the young player during his rookie season when in actuality, the scout or TV personality is using the comparison only as a way to say what type of style the young player possesses.

Having said that, it’s hard for me not to read the draft skinnies on White and not think of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier. The 2014 first-round pick ran an unofficial 4.36 40-yard dash at his Ohio State Pro Day and was deemed an extremely-athletic, playmaking linebacker.

White seems to be gandering those same hot-button keywords in his draft profile -- athletic, playmaker.

"Ultra-athletic defender with a non-stop motor and sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability," NFL.com draft expert Bucky Brooks wrote. "White is capable of destroying the offense's game plan."

Although sometimes he was actually too fast for his own good, out-running his run gap, Shazier made two Pro Bowls in 2016 and 2017 and was on his way to true stardom when he suffered his devastating spinal injury in Dec. 2017.

If others find White reminds them of Shazier too, that will only raise his draft stock. Tight ends had record-setting numbers across the NFL in 2018, so it’s just going to grow more important to find athletic linebackers who can do everything, especially speedy ones who can cover.

The Steelers would probably love to get their hands on White, but despite holding their highest draft pick since selecting Shazer in 2014, Pittsburgh’s first-round selection (20th overall) probably still isn’t high enough to land White. Much to the dismay of Steelers fans, White could also land with a division rival.

The Cincinnati Bengals badly need linebackers and could use White to supplement their strong defensive line. The latest mock draft from CBS Sports has White headed to the Bengals at No. 11.

Maybe he won’t even get that far into the draft, though. The newest Walter Football mock draft has White off the board at No. 8 to the Detroit Lions. At NFL.com, Brooks and Daniel Jeremiah ranked White the ninth-best college player in October, and that lists includes players ahead of him who didn’t declare for the NFL.

The latest mock draft from USA Today has White dropping a little bit but staying in the top half of the first round. He went to the Carolina Panthers at No. 16 overall according to The Big Lead’s 6.0 2019 NFL Mock Draft.

It’s still pretty early in the draft process. A lot of things can change, but athletes like White usually only see their stock rise in the months before the draft because they are the ones who score the best on the measurables. All indications point to White being a Top 10 selection in the 2019 draft.