One can comfortably say that the 2017 NFL Draft is one of the deeper drafts in memory. At the cornerback position, it is hard to compare any other classes to the sheer volume of good players this year holds. There are at least ten players, it seems, who can have a case made for them for being first round cornerbacks. Beyond that, there are so many more that feel like they belong among the top 50 or so players in this class. With that depth and amazing amount of talent, it is easy for names to get lost among the shuffle, which is exactly what feels like is happening to Tre'Davious White.
Even before White's play is examined, there is a lot to be impressed about him. White essentially started all his four years at LSU, an impressive feat given the cornerback talent they produce. White was a Walter Camp All-American last season as well as being All-SEC, also impressive given the level of cornerback talent in the country and conference right now. What is most impressive and exciting about White's accolades. The number 18 on his jersey is a massive honor at LSU. The number 18 jersey is awarded to players who exemplify leadership, high character and great work ethic. When Bennie Logan was drafted by the Eagles in 2013, Howie Roseman cited Logan's number 18 jersey as a signifier of his work ethic.
White's handful of impressive accolades do not stand alone among the reasons he is a good prospect, he is also one hell of a cover cornerback.
There are bigger cornerbacks than White in this class and there are more athletic cornerbacks in this class, but Tre'Davious White has some of the best and most consistent technique of any of these cornerbacks. This play is perfect. White is physical through the route, but never so much as to draw a flag. This consistent physicality forces receivers to play to his speed, negating any physical advantage an opponent would have. White then plays the receivers eyes to get his head around at the perfect moment to play the ball and defends it perfectly, timing his hands well enough to poke the ball out of the receiver's possession.
White's technique and awareness are so integral to his game, making him an incredibly good man cover cornerback.
White's footwork is perfect and he allows no separation on the comeback route, allowing him to pick the pass off (he returned it for a touchdown). White is not a great athlete (not a bad one either), so he cannot just rely on his gifts to carry his game. He wins with being a nearly flawless technician and always having great awareness on the field.
Even in off man coverage, White is disciplined the entire time, even when he quarterback starts scrambling outside of the pocket. His second gear as a cornerback allows him to close on plays last second to defend passes, a major asset for any cornerback hoping to be a playmaker.
White was used in a variety of ways. LSU liked putting him in the slot because of how he matched on quicker receivers and he also operated very well as a zone cornerback.
After dropping into a short zone, White is able to recognize the offensive player coming into his zone before the quarterback makes the throw, allowing him to get there before the ball does and stop the play. This is just another example of White's savvy and dependability.
Honestly, it is hard to find severe holes in White's game besides the fact that he is unspectacular. He is so good and consistently dependable, it is almost boring. In coverage, he is more the type of player who is going to be consistently giving good looks on defense than necessarily being a playmaker. With only seven career turnovers in four seasons of starting, he is not going to be a game changing cornerback in the way some of the other top guys could be, but he will be a consistent and dependable player on a defense. He is a bit lankier for an outside cornerback too and that could hurt him against bigger, physical receivers and it certainly impacts his tackling. He is a willing player when it comes to using his body, but he just does not pack a lot of punch.
NFL Comparison: Dynamically, White is similar to Eli Apple coming out of Ohio State last year. While Apple was a bit better of an athlete, both were very sound cover cornerbacks who may not be game changing talents, but the type of dependable defenders a team needs on the outside of their defense. While neither will ever be heralded for their run defense, they will also be lauded for how little you hear their names during games due to the lack of targets they will see.
White's versatile usage at LSU would make him a good fit in Philadelphia, as well as several other teams. He can play press man, off man or zone coverage with little problems. While he might not ever be a number one cornerback due to lack of elite size or athletic ability, there is no doubt the value he can bring to a defense. He could be considered a reach at the 14th pick, but the Eagles adding a dependable, high character cornerback to their defense is not exactly the worst thing in the world. Not to mention, White can be an asset on special teams (three career return touchdowns). Overall, while he is not among the top three cornerbacks in this class, he should be mentioned with the many secondary defenders who warrant first round consideration.