Whatever concerns teams might have had about West Virginia receiver Kevin White’s speed — and whatever minute hopes Chiefs fans might have had about him falling to the 18th overall pick in this year’s draft — disappeared in a little over four seconds on Saturday.
That’s all it took for the prolific 6-foot-3, 215-pound wideout to run a surprising 4.35 second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which was tied for the third-best mark among all participants at his position. That helped legitimize recent rumblings that White, not equally prolific Alabama receiver Amari Cooper, deserves to be the first receiver taken in the draft.
“I was intrigued by it,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said of the time. “Kevin White’s been my guy since I put the tape on. I think Amari Cooper is the safe choice — and he’s like Torry Holt, everything’s so smooth — however, what I see with White is a higher ceiling, a bigger guy that runs faster.
Entering the test, Mayock said, he was hoping White would run a 4.45, 4.46, somewhere in that range.
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“Instead he runs 4.35, and he made everything look easy,” Mayock said. “I was talking to some coaches walking off the field, and I was like ‘What do you think of White?’ and every single one of them was like ‘Wow, it was easy.’ Great hands, exploded in every drill.
“So if you start taking a look right now at Oakland, if they go receiver, I think it’s wide open right now with (Louisville’s DeVante) Parker, Cooper and White.”
White is coming off a monster senior season in which he caught 109 passes for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns, all the while flashing competitiveness and an ability to make difficult, contested catches.
Cooper, who checked in a 6 feet 1 and 210 pounds, had a better statistical year, however, catching 124 passes for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is generally regarded as the most polished receiver in the draft, someone whose understanding of pro route concepts, precise route running and ability to track the deep ball, makes him one of the safest picks in the draft.
Cooper, by the way, certainly ran a solid enough 40 time himself at 4.42 seconds, which should easily solidify his status as a surefire top-10 pick.
“We’re both good receivers,” White said at the Combine. “We catch the ball well, get YAC (yards after catch) yards well, we compete at a high level. A lot of comparisons. A lot that we do different, (too).”
With the biggest, clearly, being the way they get open. Cooper’s ability to take the top off a defense is terrifying, but so is White’s aggressiveness and size, which he willing throws around in all facets of the game
“I think I put a lot of fear in defensive backs just because I block so well and when I come off the line I’m quicker than they expect,” White said. “By the time they realize it, it’s already a done deal.”
And White wasn’t afraid to make it known that he wants to be the first receiver taken, a possibility that certainly became a lot more real after his Combine performance Saturday.
“Everyone dreams of being the first draft pick at their position,” White said. “It would mean a lot I’m sure to Amari Cooper and the other receivers as well.”