I'm not nearly as much a fan of the draft as most NFL fans I know.
The reason for this is pretty simple; I believe that vast majority of fans over-value draft picks. It seems like most people view the draft through this kind of lens:
1st round picks: You should get a star if it's top 20, and very high quality starter in the rest.
2nd round picks: High quality starter.
3rd round picks: Starter who can help make plays.
4th-5th round picks: Guys who can develop into average starters.
6th-7th round picks: Crapshoots that fans of every team believe have really high ceilings.
I hate to be that guy, but the numbers just don't add up here. Go look at any team's draft history. Literally any team. No one has drafts like the above goal draft year in and year out. Sure, a team might have a draft like that every now and then, but that is knocking it out of the PARK. For me, it's more like this:
1st-2nd round: You should consistently get contributors here.
All the rest: Basically a crapshoot.
I'm not downplaying the importance of the draft. Good teams are the ones who are able to find average or above average players in the draft and plug them in (cheap labor). It's an essential part of being a successful franchise. It's just that fans have wildly unrealistic expectations about how good draft picks will be.
And that is why I went into D.J White's film with really, really low expectations. Generally speaking, 6th round draft picks are about 28 times more likely to do nothing than become a starter (note; these are unofficial numbers. And by that, I mean made up), so when I watch a guy who fell to the 6th round I start off looking for the reasons why he fell that far.
In the case of a cornerback, such things are; does he have poor speed? Bad footwork? Is he terrible at pressing? Does he never, ever get his head turned around? Is his quickness subpar? Does he do a really poor job contesting passes?
It might seem like an unfair way to scout a guy, but I've found it leads to a more realistic assessment. All of this is a longwinded way of saying I expected to be writing about why D.J. White fell to the 6th round.
Instead, I... um... well... (shrug)
Honestly, watching three of White's games, I really couldn't tell you why he fell. I kept waiting for some glaring flaw to emerge and it kept... not happening. Instead, I saw a lot of things to like.
Whute presses aggressively, but doesn't over-commit, keeps eyes on QB, maintains discipline, great open field tackle pic.twitter.com/0YXw3WJbDT— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) May 12, 2016
Now, ignoring the idiot who posted the typo there (who gave that guy a Twitter account, anyway?), that play shows a little bit of everything that I like about White.
First, the press. I don't expect wide receivers to get injured EVERY time White presses them (like what happens here), so that's not what I'm talking about. Although, to be fair, that would be a heckuva method. Just quickly break a WR's thumb? Some Jason Bourne stuff there.
Anyway, what I mean is the aggressive punch right at the line. White consistently (when in press coverage) does a good job not just getting his hands on receivers, but putting some oomph behind it. When receivers are able to prevent him from getting a good initial punch, he's still very good at mirroring their movement at the line of scrimmage and getting his hands on them to an extent. He's very clearly more comfortable pressing than in off man coverage (something he shares in common with Russell, the Chiefs 3rd round pick).
Additionally on this play, White shows off good instincts. He keeps his eyes up and sees the quick throw coming to his side of the field. He immediately breaks on the ball, demonstrating his quick feet and reaction time (I'll come back to that), and makes a nice solo tackle. That's a tough play to put together, and White does it without any problems.
White's tackling is something that shows up pretty consistently. He's not a mauler by any means, but he is willing to stick his nose in there (again, just like Russell, and a lot like Eric Murray, the other rookie CB taken. Dorsey was pretty clearly looking for guys who can tackle) and wrap up. He drops his head a little more than I'd like, but generally shows decent form. He also does a good job going for the strip WHILE bringing the ball carrier down.
People may want to talk about White's height, given that he's only 5'11. Now, I've gone off about the ridiculous ideas people have regarding CB height before, so I won't here (although it's still insane to me that people think a single inch is THAT IMPORTANT, but whatever). The thing with White is he does not let his supposed lack of size get in the way when he's fighting WR's for the football.
People make a big deal about height, but whether you "play big" is way more important. DJ White plays big. pic.twitter.com/OIKyzoXGDw— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) May 14, 2016
Here, White is matched up against a significantly taller and bigger player. Doesn't matter. He refuses to be pushed off and fights his way to the ball, going after it BEFORE the receiver can wrap his hands around it. Too many corners, in my opinion, attack the receiver rather than the ball. The problem with this is that a good receiver, once his hands are on the ball, is going to lock that thing up no matter what you do (think DeAndre Hopkins). If you go after the ball while it's still in the air, you can prevent the receiver from having a realistic chance. That's why people talk about ball skills as so important for a corner. It's not just about being able to catch the ball, it's about taking away a realistic chance of a catch.
Though, since we talk about ball skills, it's worth noting on literally the very next play from the above-gif'd one, White picked off a fade in the end zone that he played beautifully. He's got decent hands (some of you drool over that kind of thing from a corner, so everyone wins!).
I also like White's feet. Not in a creepy, Rex Ryan kinda way like I was accused of when I said so on Twitter. But more of a, "I'm attracted to this person's feet" kind of way. What do you mean that doesn't sound any better?
Uh... to move on, my point is that White has some quick footwork. Now, it's not perfect, but the raw material is definitely there. This play is a good example of that.
I really like White's feet. Very quick and active. Not perfect coverage here, but a good demonstration of his feet. pic.twitter.com/guYECQTyZJ— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) May 14, 2016
Now, this play isn't textbook as White takes a couple of false steps here. But you can (hopefully) see what I'm talking about. He's able to quickly backpedal and transition into moving toward the sideline when the WR makes a quick break outside. There's some separation there, but it's little enough that a QB / WR would need really good timing and accuracy to get a completion out of that play.
The main point there is to just watch his feet. Anyone who can make the transition from backpedaling to closing that quickly is a guy who has my attention.
Really, I struggled to find issues with White. I find it kind of amazing he didn't get drafted higher. If I were a betting man, I'd say he might not have the top speed teams are looking for when it comes to recovering when beaten. He also doesn't look as good when playing off man coverage. He seems a bit more hesitant when he's not right at the line with his man, which led to some catches that weren't contested.
But overall... I really can't tell you why White fell as far as he did. He looks like a guy who has a chance at being a really solid NFL corner. We'll see what happens (and a lot of solid-looking prospects fail the acid test of the NFL), but I would not be one bit surprised if it turns out to be White who is the gem of the CB trio Dorsey went after in the draft.