Day two of the 2022 NFL Draft shaped up to be a big one for the Buccaneers after Thursday night’s trade, as it gave them three selections between the second and third rounds. They opened the second round by selecting Houston defensive lineman Logan Hall with the No. 33 overall pick before trading up from pick No. 60 to pick No. 57 for Central Michigan guard Luke Goedeke.
To round out Friday night, Tampa Bay spent the No. 91 pick on running back Rachaad White out of Arizona State. Here, we have three things you need to know about the newest member of the Buccaneer backfield.
White is a big-play, pass-catching threat
When evaluating White’s time at Arizona State, his numbers jump off the page. He totaled a mind-blowing 420 yards and five touchdowns on 42 carries (10 yards per carry) in 2020, while also catching eight passes for 151 yards and a touchdown (18.9 yards per catch). After doing all of that in four games (three starts), he posted 1,006 yards and 15 touchdowns on 182 carries in 2021 (5.5 yards per carry) in addition to catching 43 passes for 456 yards and a touchdown (10.6 yards per catch). Given his ability to be a home-run threat—and a steady pass-catcher—it’s easy to see why the Bucs liked him enough to draft him in the third round.
A deeper look at White’s numbers paints an even crazier picture. He accounted for 30.5% of the Sun Devils’ total yards in 2021. Averaging 6.4 yards per carry and 11.9 yards per catch over 15 games (11 starts) in Tempe, he earned a 92.4 grade from Pro Football Focus over the last two seasons. That was the highest-grade of any back in this year’s draft class.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pick Arizona State RB Rachaad White at No. 91 overall.— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 30, 2022
92.4 PFF grade since 2020 (1st among RBs in the 2022 Draft) pic.twitter.com/0H501x4M0P
Given that Tampa Bay already has Leonard Fournette, Giovani Bernard and Ke’Shawn Vaughn in its backfield, White might not have the biggest role right away. But his skill set is built for him to carve out a big-play role early on in his career, perhaps as a pass-catcher and a change-of-pace back while he continues to develop and improve as a pass protector.
White went from zero-star recruit to the NFL
In the second round of this year’s draft, Jason Licht made a very Jason Licht pick when he selected Luke Goedeke, a former zero-star recruit who walked on at the Division III level before getting to Central Michigan. And with his very next pick, Licht selected a guy who went a similar route. White was a zero-star recruit out of Center High School in Kansas City, Missouri with zero Division I offers. That led him to continue his football journey at Nebraska-Kearney, a Division II program.
After redshirting in 2017 at Nebraska-Kearney, White decided to transfer, going down the junior college path. He played at Mt. San Antonio Community College in Walnut, California, in 2018 and 2019. After a solid debut season for the Mounties in 2018, he ran for 1,264 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019 while totaling 216 receiving yards and two additional scores. He parlayed that into a position at Arizona State, where he shined over the course of two years. Now, just five years after being overlooked by every Division I program in the country, he’s an NFL running back.
White has drawn comparisons to two former elite running backs with Bucs ties
During the pre-draft process, White was compared by some to David Johnson. That’s especially interesting, of course, because Bruce Arians was the head coach in Arizona when the Cardinals drafted Johnson in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Now, it’s White being selected in the third round by Tampa Bay, and Arians is in the front office as a senior consultant. The two running backs even went in the same range within the third round, with Johnson being the No. 86 overall pick and White being the No. 91 pick on Friday night.
Now, expecting White to produce at the level that Johnson did during his peak years might be lofty. But you can see the running and receiving ability that White has, and given the role he should have early on in his career, the Bucs should be able to make the most of what he has to offer.
Rachaad White on back-to-back plays vs. Stanford. The explosive play ability on the first clip followed by flashes of his balance (he's a jump cut machine) and fluid running style on the TD run. pic.twitter.com/IJTF9uLR6z— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) March 11, 2022
Another comparison White has earned—and a player who he said he’s always loved watching—is Le’Veon Bell. That’s notable as well, considering the Bucs brought Bell in for depth last season when they were struggling with injuries. While it’s again impossible to expect White to put up the numbers that Bell did during his best years, it’s definitely interesting to see another running back with that type of playing style come in at 23 years old. Jason Licht told the media on Friday night that he doesn’t want to make comparisons before White even practices at the NFL level, but he does see the similarities between his style and Bell’s.
There it is, Bucs Nation. Rachaad White is your newest running back. You can find him on Twitter @chaad_3. Be sure to congratulate him and welcome him to Tampa Bay!