2017 NFL draft prospect countdown, No. 30: Tre'Davious White, DB, LSU
White will enter the draft with a level of playing experience rarely seen from coveted DB prospects. He started 47 games for LSU, spread over his four seasons there, including 11 as a true freshman. White finished his career with 167 tackles and six interceptions, as well as 34 pass break-ups—a career-high 14 of those came during the 2016 season. He was named first-team All-SEC last season and was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented annually to the nation’s top defensive back. (USC’s Adoree Jackson took home the honor.) On top of his defensive duties, White averaged 10.0 yards per punt return on 69 attempts during his college career. He scored a punt-return TD in each of his final three seasons.
Strengths: The aforementioned extensive experience no doubt plays a part here, but White already has the game of an NFL man-coverage corner. He’s aggressive and handsy to the point that he almost dares officials to flag him for pass interference—and they rarely do.
White is not just a DB that drives receivers to the boundary, either. He can flip his hips and stay with those deep routes, but he also has the speed to hang with guys cutting across the middle of the field. Because of those abilities, he could see a heavy dose of slot time as a rookie.
“A lot of teams like my versatility,” White said at the combine. I was fortunate enough to have a great coach, Corey Raymond at LSU. He let us know right off the bat we weren’t going to be a guy who plays just one position. You’ve got to know all three positions in the defensive backfield. I thank him for that.”
He’s a long-and-lean cornerback (5' 11", 192 lbs., 32 1/8" arm length), who thrives on athleticism and timing. When the ball is in the air near him, he’s going to attempt a play on it, even if that means running through a receiver. His 32" combine vertical jump was far from eye-popping, but at LSU he went up and made myriad plays in the air.
Weaknesses: As was the case with No. 31 on our top 40, Ohio State’s Gareon Conley, there are concerns if White can be physical enough as an NFL DB. White does use his hands in attempts to reroute receivers and he gets after the ball, but bigger-bodied playmakers might be able to knock him around some. He likely won’t be a huge help against the run.
There also is the matter of consistency. White opted to return to LSU for the 2016 season rather than enter the draft, which turned out to be a great call as he pushes into Round 1. But part of why that decision made sense is that White had far less of an impact in 2015 than was expected. He did miss a late-October game vs. Western Kentucky with a knee injury, so it’s possible that issue lingered.
Player comp: Casey Hayward