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Scouting Jets linebacker Javin White

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets recently poached Javin White from the Raiders’ practice squad. Today we break down White in detail.

The 24-year old White is listed at 6’2” and 211 pounds and was undrafted out of UNLV in 2020. White has played in five NFL games and recorded four tackles including a tackle for loss.

Background

White was a three-star wide receiver prospect in high school and was eventually recruited to UNLV where he was redshirted as a freshman and converted to defensive back.

In 2016, he saw action as a backup safety but mostly contributed on special teams as he ended the season with six tackles.

As a sophomore, he moved into a hybrid safety role and started the last five games of the year as he ended up with 40 tackles, including three for loss. He also showed some playmaking ability with two interceptions including a pick-six, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.

Over his last two seasons, White started all 24 games. He had two sacks, four forced fumbles and four interceptions in his junior year and then earned an all-Mountain West Conference honorable mention as a senior when he posted career highs of 79 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 10 pass breakups. He also added another three interceptions to end his career with nine.

White couldn’t attend the combine or a pro day workout because of the pandemic but he carried out a virtual pro day which he then sent to teams. He was hopeful of being a late round draft pick but was eventually not selected and signed for the Raiders as an undrafted free agent.

However, White was an instant hit in training camp and was in the mix for a roster spot until being released in final cuts. He spent his rookie year on the practice squad but was elevated to the active roster four times. He only played 12 defensive snaps but was credited with four tackles and a tackle for loss.

In 2021, he impressed in preseason but started off the regular season on injured reserve. When he was ready to be activated, they moved him onto the practice squad, from where he was active for one game. He was poached by the Jets last week which meant he would by rule have to remain on the 53-man roster until the end of the season.

Now let’s take a look at what White brings to the table, divided into categories.

Measurables/Athleticism

White’s virtual pro day was apparently extremely impressive as he reportedly ran a 4.45 in the 40-yard dash and posted a 40-inch vertical. This athleticism shows up on film.

He is undersized for the linebacker position, although he weighed in at 218 for that workout and has pretty good length. He only managed 17 bench press reps though.

Usage

At this level, White is employed as an off-ball linebacker, although in college he often matched up with receivers in the slot.

As noted, he was a wide receiver in high school and began his college career as a safety.

Run defense

White did a decent job against the run in college but most of his contributions so far at the NFL level have been in coverage. He did, however, get off a block to make this tackle for loss.

Between the tackles, he can be somewhat tentative and his lack of size can obviously be detrimental to taking on or getting off blocks.

Coverage skills

White shows pretty impressive footwork when dropping and transitioning in coverage with his experience as a defensive back no doubt a factor in that. He can be employed in man coverage assignments but also has the closing speed to be effective in zone coverage.

Here’s an excellent play where he mirrors the slot receiver’s release and blankets him to break up the pass over the middle.

This play is arguably even more impressive though. White drops deep to break up a downfield pass, showing outstanding range and timing.

There were also a couple more impressive plays in preseason where White stayed tight on his man forcing the ball to be thrown away and one where he was in tight coverage on an incompletion over the middle.

As noted, he was a high school receiver and has good ball skills with excellent production in college for interceptions and pass breakups.

Tackling

White was a productive tackler in college. He hits well when coming downhill but can sometimes come in too upright and get dragged or driven for a few extra yards. His closing speed and technique are solid, though.

He has also missed tackles from time to time, including 13 in his final season at UNLV. He hasn’t missed many at the NFL level but did fail to make the tackle on this touchdown.

White had a knack for forcing fumbles in college, with six in his last three years, including four in his junior year.

Blitzing

White hasn’t had many chances to blitz at the NFL level but generated pressure at a decent rate when blitzing at UNLV. He had 3.5 sacks in his college career.

Special teams

White has shown an ability to contribute on special teams and certainly possesses traits that scouts will look for in terms of special teams potential.

He impressed with a couple of tackles in kick coverage for the Raiders in regular season action.

Physicality

White plays the game with physicality and aggression but, as noted, he can sometimes be tentative, perhaps because he knows his lacks of size means he can’t afford to get stuck on a block. Here’s a play where he was collected and driven back at the second level.

In coverage, he’s had some experience of lining up in press position and jamming slot receivers at the line.

Instincts/Intelligence

Raiders coaches and teammates were impressed with how quickly White picked up the system and praised his communication.

He can make some quick reads and react well on plays. Here’s one where he blows up a wide receiver screen before the blockers can get set.

Scouting reports indicate his instincts in zone coverage can be lacking at times and although there wasn’t much evidence of this based on his NFL film so far, he did hesitate on this play.

Attitude

White was regarded as a good leader with a mature attitude at UNLV and he was considered someone who would do the little things and lead by example.

The Raiders were impressed with his leadership too, noting that he was a vocal leader who brought lots of positive energy.

His on-field discipline has been good, including no penalties at the NFL level so far. However, he did have an uncharacteristic eight penalties in his senior year.

Injuries

Any time an undersized player is required to play linebacker at the NFL, durability is a concern and White didn’t allay this much in preseason as he was knocked out of the first game with a head injury and then was knocked out of the second game with a knee injury.

That landed him on injured reserve at the end of preseason and he wasn’t activated from there until November, although he is back to full health now.

Scheme Fit

The Jets clearly see a role for these safety/linebacker hybrids that can play the linebacker position but are smaller, with more athleticism and coverage ability than a conventional linebacker.

He is a former teammate of current Jets safety Lamarcus Joyner.

Conclusions

Unlike many of the recent additions the Jets have made, which have been filling gaps in an emergency, White’s signing probably represents a move with an eye on developing him next season.

He showed promise in preseason and put some tantalizing moments on film in terms of his ability to drop and cover from the linebacker position. Finding linebackers who can cover is not easy, so White’s potential in this area has to have convinced the Jets to bring him in.

Whether he has the size, physicality and durability to thrive in a full-time linebacker role is another matter, but even if he ends up as a role player, that could be a valuable low-risk find for the team.