It feels like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been trying to find a pass catching running back since general manager Jason Licht took this job. From Charles Sims to Ke’Shawn Vaughn, this journey has been long and fruitless. In the third round of last week’s NFL draft Licht took another bite at the apple.
Rachaad White is the latest young prospect to attempt to fill this void. The Arizona State Sun Devil running back rushed for 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns last year as well as pull in 43 receptions for 456 yards. These statistics are all well and good, but is White finally the one that sticks?
Games watched: USC, BYU, Arizona, Southern Utah
The first thing that stands out about White is his feel for the game. He’s extremely patient and lets things develop in front of him. When they do White used his above average vision to find the gap and hit it hard. This is something that’s difficult to teach, so to have it as a strength already is a huge plus.
What can be taught is strength and conditioning. White has a great frame at 6’1 and 210 lbs. Just watching him it looks like he could even add more muscle. If White could get stronger and build on his pass catching skill set then he could turn into a great value three down workhorse
Speaking of pass catching skill set, this is the primary reason White was drafted by the Buccaneers. He can be an outlet in the flats and work the middle of the field. There are times where White would even lineup as an outside receiver in college. It’s easy to see why Licht was drawn to his abilities in this class.
Whether it be after the catch or as a runner, White has a subtle elusiveness to him. He can make cuts and jokes look easy and let defenders glance off him. This often allowed him to pick up a few extra yards and occasionally break off a big play. White not look like the prototypical scat back, but he uses his high football intelligence to maximize what’s there.
Despite testing fairly well at the combine, White doesn’t look like a great athlete. His long speed is okay, but he lacks explosiveness and acceleration. This can lead to him being tracked down in the backfield or just lacking the ability to threaten the defense. In short, White may have limited upside as an average athlete.
While White looks like the pass catching threat that the Buccaneers have been looking for, he does leave something to be desired as a blocker. I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a bad pass blocker, but I wouldn’t call him a good one either. With his size and seemingly willing attitude there’s no reason White shouldn’t be better in this area. The coach staff can probably coach him up and turn White into a good blocker, but on the other hand that’s what was said about Ronald Jones when he was drafted.
White is a good football player. He’s very aware on the field and just seems to play the game at a slower pace than everyone else (in a good way). His ability as receiver is what the Buccaneers have been looking for over the last several years. He should be able to come in and contribute right away as a rookie.
In many ways he reminds me of Le’Veon Bell. A bigger back who is a patient as a runner and a good pass catcher. Bell never stood out as an athlete in his day either, but always found ways to be productive. That’s not to say that White will be a multiple time All Pro caliber player, but if you’re looking for a comparable archetype then that’s the one.
White can make an impact on the Bucs offense right away. He can carry the ball behind Leonard Fournette, but more importantly he can be a receiver out of the backfield. In many ways he’s the piece that’s been missing in this offense in the Tom Brady era. Now that he’s here, White adds another dimension to this Super Bowl contender.
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