In 2016 the Jets used the 20th overall pick in the first round of the NFL draft to select linebacker Darron Lee. I used my tax refund that year to buy a new laptop computer because I broke my old one over my knee when I heard the pick.
This is the exact quote Mike Mayock used after the Lee pick: ”He’s today’s NFL outside linebacker. He ran a 4.47 40 at 232 pounds. He’s a sideline-to-sideline, three-down linebacker. His weakness is if you cover him up against a big body, he will struggle.”
I knew the Jets were going to use Lee as an ILB as soon as the pick was made. He is not an ILB. He is an ankle grabbing tackler who cannot get off blocks.
If you want a first round ILB, Devin White is what one looks like. Devin White is a downhill tackler with power, speed and a non-stop motor. He is the type of aggressive, fast, intimidating ILB that a team like the Jets needs. He is the new version of players like Dick Butkus and Jack Lambert. A fast flowing, quick reading, ballistic missile who loves to thrust through the offensive line and bring destruction in his wake.
The Jets have Jamal Adams setting the tone in the secondary, this kid would do the same for the linebackers. If the Jets could somehow get Quinnen Williams to play on the D-line, they would have the makings of a dominant defense. I know the Jets can’t get both (or can they?) but a guy can dream can’t he?
Devin White is the kind of ILB you want playing for the New York Jets.
Devin White 6’1” 248 lbs LSU #40. True Junior.
After a nondescript freshman year Devin White has developed into an impressive player. He totaled 133 tackles with 14 tackles for loss, five sacks and one interception in 2017. His 96 assisted tackles led the NCAA in 2017 and his 14 tackles for loss were fourth in the SEC.
In 2018 White increased his solo tackles to 54 (4.5 per game) and had 115 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, three sacks, five passes defended, three forced fumbles and three recovered fumbles. White played more in coverage in 2018 because of his speed, covering running backs and tight ends.
White is an imposing player with good strength and plus speed for the position. He is a sideline to sideline, three down linebacker who would likely have been a first round pick in the 2018 NFL draft had he been eligible. White plays in the SEC, arguably the best conference in college football. If he can excel there I think he has a better than average chance at NFL success.
Here against Florida White shows excellent speed. He is on a blitz and he does a good job of not showing his hand too early. Unfortunately White is late off the snap and gets a poor jump coming from 5 yards off the ball. Fortunately the QB’s first looks are covered and the left guard doesn’t even look for the blitz, giving White a clean shot. He takes advantage of it with blazing speed for a guy who weighs 248 lbs.
Here against Tennessee White shows his excellent instincts. He reads the play and without hesitation makes the play in the backfield for a loss. These kinds of instincts are rare in an ILB. White sees the play, deciphers what is happening, makes an emphatic, confident decision, finds the hole, and executes the play using impressive closing speed and making a strong sure tackle.
On this play White reads the play that is going up the middle but the hole is closed. The RB reacts to this by sliding to his right. The hole the running back sees is closed quickly by White, who slides to his left to make a forceful tackle for a minimal gain. The RB has a full head of steam but is stonewalled at the point of the tackle and even goes backward.
From a different angle you see the play as White stonewalls the RB and uses his weight to pull the RB back. He also uses his strength to pull the RB’s arms apart, forcing a fumble. Watch how he turns his body just before the hit to get all his weight into the play and pull the RB back.
These next two plays against Texas A&M show some impressive speed. First White is playing the LILB position. He blitzes at the snap and finds a nice hole between the DE and the DT. White’s speed beats the center, who is coming over to pick up the blitz, and he makes the tackle just as the RB gets the ball.
On the next play White is playing the RILB position and reads the play well. He doesn’t over commit to all the play action to his left and keeps his edge responsibilities that the RDE neglects. By using his speed White is able to limit what could have been a big play to a 2 yard gain.
On the last clip White is the LILB and the offense is in a one back set in a tight formation. White’s man on this play is the RB and White reads the play well. The RB doesn’t attack the LOS at the snap but instead he stands straight up with a cursory jab step to the right. When the QB turns his back to the LOS White attacks the play knowing it is either a play action pass or a run. White’s quick instincts ensure it is either going to be a sack or a tackle for loss and the RB has no escape as White makes a strong sure tackle.
White is an exciting prospect who I like a lot. He is the high octane, tone setting player who can inspire a defense. He played on an LSU team that was horrible on offense in 2017 and which put the defense on the field early and often. He performed very well but he was raw as a player. He has evolved in 2018 with more rounded play and the ability to cover the seam and play in space.
White has not yet declared for the draft and seems genuinely conflicted by the choices. If he does decide to come out he will likely be a top 20 pick.