In his latest mock draft for ESPN, Todd McShay had the Rams selecting West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White at No. 10. Would he be a fit? Here’s a look at White the prospect and whether or not the Rams even need to address the wideout position in the first round.
Why he’s a fit for the Rams: With a decade of losing under their belt, the Rams shouldn’t be in the habit of bypassing talented players because of a perceived notion that they have enough at a certain position. That same line of thinking would have caused the Rams to pass on Aaron Donald, who didn’t fill a need at No. 13 overall last year but went on to win the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
There’s no question White is talented. At 6’3″ and 210 pounds, he has ideal size for a receiver and the biggest thing that caught my eye when re-watching his games from 2014 is his ability to change body position, get his hands in place to make the catch and concentrate on the ball with defenders closing in around him.
Go back to the second quarter of West Virginia’s game against Alabama from this past season and you’ll see a receiver with the ability to beat press coverage, get to the outside, use his hands and length to create separation, and then high-point a pass for a touchdown with the defensive back in his hip pocket. He also pulled off a similar play along the sidelines on a reception to push the Mountaineers deep into Crimson Tide territory early in the third quarter.
Receivers need to have the ability to focus on the ball and isolate it from everything else happening around them. White showed that ability versus Alabama and again during a mid-September game against Maryland when he high-pointed a jump ball near midfield and came down with the catch with two defenders in coverage. While he did have drops in the back of the end zone against both teams, I was consistently impressed with White’s focus and concentration.
As he displayed on a 44-yard touchdown on a slip screen in that same contest versus Maryland, he also has the ability to create separation after the catch and is seemingly always gaining positive yards. With a 4.49 forty, he has enough vertical speed to be dangerous on deep passes as well.
As we sit here a month before free agency, the Rams have more pressing needs than receiver, especially if they re-sign Kenny Britt. But even with Britt, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin at the top of the depth chart, there’s still an argument to be made that the Rams need a wideout that can take the top off a defense and win consistently outside the numbers.
Why he’s not a fit for the Rams: It wouldn’t be a question of fit with White (6’3” wide receivers with 4.49 speed that can high-point passes in traffic can fit any offense), but need.
With some exceptions, I’m a believer in drafting the best player available over need. If you stock your roster with talent, you’ll be better equipped to handle injuries, free agency and other factors that will challenge your depth throughout the year. If you draft purely for need, you run the risk of bypassing more talented players just because you have a hole at a certain position. While teams do need to address weaknesses in the draft, the primary objective is to acquire talent, which is vital to building winning organizations. More times than not, drafting the best player, regardless of need, will put teams in position to be proactive instead of reactive.
But considering they own a top 10 pick, acquiring talent in the first round shouldn’t be an issue for the Rams. If two players grade out evenly at the top of a draft board, that’s when a team should look to fill a need.
White is a first-round talent but I’m not sure he’s going to be better than some of the offensive linemen (or other receivers, for that matter) that could be available at No. 10. As of this writing, the Rams have more pressing needs along their O-line than at receiver, and adding multiple offensive linemen this offseason is vital for a team that wants to dominate opponents on the ground.
Bottom Line: After passing on Sammy Watkins at No. 2 last year, I can’t see Jeff Fisher and Les Snead drafting White at No. 10 this April. Fisher reminded everyone before the draft last year that the Rams already invested multiple picks at receiver when they took Quick, Austin, Bailey and Chris Givens in previous drafts. Chances are there will be prospects at other positions that the Rams value more at No. 10 and thus, White won’t have an opportunity to join former Mountaineers Bailey and Austin this upcoming season.