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With playmaking defensive backs like Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu leading the charge, Louisiana State has developed a well-earned reputation as "DBU," a status that White - a former five-star recruit and three-time All-SEC selection has certainly maintained.
White nearly entered the 2016 draft after starting his third consecutive season, leading the Tigers in passes defensed for the second time over his career and earning Second Team All-SEC honors. He returned with the stated intent of winning the Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back, a goal he came up just short of reaching, joining Michigan's Jourdan Lewis and the eventual winner Adoree' Jackson from Southern Cal as one of three finalists. White had a legitimate argument for the honor, leading the SEC with a career-high 14 passes broken up as part of a defense that allowed just nine passing touchdowns over 12 games. White added big plays to his stellar coverage, scoring touchdowns off of an interception return (against Wisconsin in the season-opener) and off a punt return a week later against Jacksonville State - the third punt return for a touchdown over his career.
The Shreveport native signed with the Tigers amid great fanfare in 2013 and immediately proved worthy of the hype, starting 11 of 13 games and earning Freshman All-SEC honors and third team Freshman All-American honors by leading the Tigers with seven passes broken up. He also collected 55 tackles, including 2.5 for loss and intercepting two passes, including one against Iowa in the Outback Bowl. White's numbers slipped slightly in 2014 (33 tackles, six pass breakups, two interceptions) though he did show off game-breaking potential as a punt retuner, taking one 67 yards against Kentucky for a touchdown.
White's success at LSU speaks for itself. Before stamping him with a first round selection, however, scouts will want reassurance that some of his liabilities - like overall physicality - will improve at the next level.
STRENGTHS: With his broad shoulders, long arms and Fred Astaire-like footwork, White certainly passes the eyeball test when it comes to coverage. He is well-versed in man to man coverage, easily turning to his right or left to shadow receivers off the snap without relying upon an initial jam. He accelerates fluidly downfield, possessing good top-end speed to handle to handle deep responsibilities. White anticipates routes very well, under-cutting short and intermediate routes and showing excellent timing and hand-eye coordination to rip at the ball as it arrives, breaking up 36 passes over his career. Though he does not possess flashy numbers as an interceptor (six career interceptions), White tracks the ball well as a punt returner, serving as LSU's primary threat in this role since 2014, returning one for a score each of the past three seasons and averaging 9.97 yards per return over his career. He is a natural with the ball in his hands, showing vision, burst, agility and the acceleration to pull away in the open field, projecting as a starting caliber returner at the next level. While not a particularly physical tackler, White generally gets the job done, using his long arms and core strength to drag down ballcarriers. He is highly regarded by the LSU coaching staff, being voted a team captain in 2016 and wearing the coveted No. 18 jersey, which is reserved for the most team-oriented players on the LSU roster.
WEAKNESSES: Frankly, White can be a liability as a tacker, as he shows below average physicality even among cornerbacks and is far too willing to allow teammates to do the dirty work in run support. He sneaks peeks at the quarterback and is too willing to bite on underneath routes, leaving him vulnerable to double-moves. When beaten, White will extend his arms and latch onto receivers, likely to draw holding or pass interference flags in the NFL. While he does a nice job of fielding punts, White possesses only fair ballskills overall, intercepting just six of the 36 passes he's got his hands on over his career.
IN OUR VIEW: White is a classic cover corner, possessing light feet, fluid hips and route anticipation to mirror receivers. For all of his strengths in coverage, however, he plays with a cover corner mentality as a tackler, especially in run support, potentially limiting him to man-heavy schemes and to the outside, where his lack of ideal height could be an issue against the gargantuan receivers of today's NFL.
COMPARES TO: Patrick Robinson, Indianapolis Colts - White has the natural cover skills to warrant first round consideration but his lack of ideal physicality as a tackler and hands as an interceptor could limit his development, as it has for the 5-11, 191 pound Robinson, a former first round pick of the Saints in 2010 who has more passes defensed (59) than interceptions (10) and assisted tackles (43) combined over his career.