Throughout January and February, we’ve been taking an in-depth look at some of the players the Jets have signed to futures deals since the end of the season. We conclude today with a look at former Ravens wide receiver Tim White.
The 24-year old White is listed at 5’10” and 185 pounds and was undrafted out of Arizona State in 2017. He has played in three NFL games, catching one pass and seeing action as a return man.
White was a track athlete as well as a football star in high school and college and began his college career at the junior college level. In 2014, he caught 55 passes for 667 yards and eight touchdowns and averaged 28 yards per kickoff return with one touchdown, earning himself a transfer to Arizona State.
In his first year with the Sun Devils, he caught 57 passes for 633 yards and eight scores, adding another touchdown on a kickoff. He was productive again in 2016 with 56 catches, 713 yards and two touchdown receptions, plus another score on a punt return.
As expected, White wasn’t selected in the 2017 draft but made a good early impression with the Ravens after having signed as an undrafted free agent. He scored a touchdown in his first preseason game having been a standout in camp, but unfortunately got injured and ended up spending the entire season on injured reserve.
Hopes were high that he was going to win a role in 2018 and he made some good plays in preseason, but was released in final cuts and added to the practice squad. However, he was activated in week three and played in the next three games, catching one pass and returning nine punts and six kickoffs.
White was released after losing a fumble on a return in his third game and spent the rest of the season on the practice squad. At the end of the season, White signed a futures deal with the Jets.
Now let’s take a look at what White brings to the table, divided into categories.
White wasn’t invited to the scouting combine but the former long jumper and triple jumper showcased some of his explosiveness at his pro day with a 38.5” vertical and 130” broad jump.
He ran a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash but his agility numbers were slightly below average.
White isn’t very big and was only 175 when he measured at his pro day, although he did manage 14 bench press reps and is currently listed as 185.
White is a player with plenty of experience in the slot. All five of his catches in preseason in 2018 and his one regular season catch were from the slot. However, he has also played outside and his touchdown in the 2017 preseason was when lined up on the outside.
White has also been used in jet sweep type situations and end arounds and occasionally in the backfield.
Interestingly, he saw some snaps as a slot cornerback in preseason with the Ravens who may have been considering him for a full-time switch.
White’s speed and acceleration have made him a deep threat at the college level and he showed off those abilities in his first preseason game:
White tracks the ball well in the air and can also be a downfield threat running down the seam.
When he was entering the NFL, the book on White was that he hadn’t necessarily had the experience of running a full route tree.
However, he reportedly stood out in camp and has the ability to make sharp breaks and create separation:
Due to his lack of size, he could struggle with press coverage, but has shown an ability to avoid the jam with his quick feet and acceleration.
White has big hands for his size, although he had several drops in each of his two seasons at Arizona State.
At the pro level, he hasn’t had any issues with drops so far, although ball security has been an issue for him on a couple of returns. Hopefully, if he adds some strength that will be less of an issue:
While he hasn’t really made any highlight reel catches at the pro level, he did turn heads with a dazzling one-handed touchdown catch in camp with the Ravens. He also showed a good ability to hold onto the ball in traffic in preseason:
As a small player, you wouldn’t really consider White as much of a red zone threat, although he has shown that he can get open out of the slot. Five of his eight touchdown catches in 2015 were in the red zone.
Yards after the catch
With his quickness and return game experience, White is a threat after the catch, although he is better at eluding tackles than breaking them; often going down on first contact.
Here was a play in preseason where he made some extra yards by bouncing off a tackler, though:
White’s lack of size is also a detriment to his ability to block, which he would need to do more of than most receivers because he plays so many snaps in the slot. He gives a good effort, though, and can be effective blocking down or on receiver screens at times.
However, that lack of size can be an issue for him, as you can see by how easily his man gets off his block on this play:
Despite the lack of size, White will fight for yardage and puts in a good effort as a blocker. As noted, he’s better at avoiding tackles and being jammed than he is at fighting off them.
He had two penalties with the Ravens but these had nothing to do with physicality; one was for an illegal fair catch signal and the other for lining up offside on a kick.
White has had pretty good return game numbers throughout his career and seems to be reliable at fielding punts cleanly. He lost two fumbles with the Ravens, but these were both as the ball was ripped away from him at the end of a return.
Here’s an example of how well he builds up speed when running back a kick:
White has good open field running instincts but his decision making can let him down in the return game, as there were plenty of examples of him being tackled well short of the 25 on returns. He also misjudged a punt and it bounced for another 15-20 yards.
However, he acknowledged that this was something he’s been seeking to improve and has become more professional about his approach to on-field decision making.
White apparently grew up in a tough family situation but has done well to make it to the NFL and seems determined to continue to improve. His coaches were quick to praise how he stayed focused while he was injured and White has said he matured during that time.
The injury that kept White out for his entire rookie season was a thumb issue that required surgery. He was healthy by the end of the year and hasn’t otherwise had any major issues, although he did have an undisclosed injury during preseason last year.
The Jets don’t currently had a slot specialist, although they are expected to bring back Deontay Burnett who can contribute there and may seek a veteran who can play this role in the free agent market. White will therefore have competition ahead of him battling for reps.
White is another receiver who will have to take every opportunity he can get to turn heads in preseason. Much like Tre McBride did in camp last season, if White can perform well in preseason it will at least give him a chance at a roster spot.
Realistically though, he’s probably battling with the other futures signings for a potential practice squad slot that may see him activated later in the year.
However, if the Jets don’t sign Andre Roberts - or if they do and he gets injured - they’ll need a return specialist. That could be another potential route to the 53-man roster for White.