Devin White is good. Really good. So what can the Bucs expect from the former LSU linebacker? For a refresher on White’s background, check out his draft profile here.
White is stylistically pretty similar to recently departed Bucs linebacker (and also former LSU standout) Kwon Alexander. You can tell that LSU has a ‘type’ of linebacker that they scout for when recruiting. What Alexander was so good at is what is often referred to as “click/close” - when identifying the ball carrier, few close and make the tackle as quickly as Kwon. White isn’t just as good, he’s better - he possesses even better sideline to sideline speed and range to make those plays. Where Alexander ran a 4.55 at the Combine, White ran a 4.42. White even has better length than Alexander.
All those things make White much more able to turn and run in coverage with running backs and tight ends, though LSU didn’t ask him to do much of that. White has said that defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ scheme is very similar to the one he had at LSU under Dave Aranda. That means White should be able to step in quickly on Day 1 , as he won’t have to unlearn a previous scheme like many of the established players on the team will. And because his role should be similar, his learning curve in the NFL may be more about adjusting to professional life than any X’s and O’s issues.
However, it’s not just strengths they share. Alexander and White have similar holes in their game too; slow and incorrect reads, biting on play action too much, route anticipation and zone awareness in coverage is spotty, and playing recklessly out of control going for the big hit and missing tackles. It’s just that White makes them less often or not quite to the same degree.
It’s safe to say that White is a lot like Alexander, both the good and the bad, but with a noticeably higher floor to his play. Whether it was the fault of the last coaching staff, which was poor, or because Kwon just was who he was at that point, Alexander didn’t develop the way you’d hope. White doesn’t have as far to go, and hopefully he gets the benefit of competent coaching. White may not be as rah-rah of a guy as Kwon, but he’s just as capable of being the heart and soul of a defense. White has a motor that stays hot, and he’s dedicated to getting better. He will set the tone and set it hard. If he’s going to unlock his full potential though, White will need to work on the mental side of his game. If he does, he’ll be a perennial Pro Bowler and one of the premier linebackers in the league. Even if he doesn’t, it is unequivocal that White makes the Buccaneers better than they were, which means it was a good night for the Bucs.