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While most of the focus in the NFL Draft community has been on Melvin Gordon, the RS Sophomore running back for the Wisconsin Badgers, his running mate James White is a solid prospect who has a chance to rise up the draft board this Spring.
White isn’t a stranger to being the “other” guy in his team’s backfield. Prior to Melvin Gordon exploding on the scene, White played second fiddle to Montee Ball, the 2nd round pick of the Denver Broncos in 2013. Even in high school, White shared time with Giovani Bernard, the Bengals second round pick last year.
Even though White has never been the “headline” back, his production and skill set warrants attention. His career at Wisconsin has been a productive one, culminating with a nice senior season that saw him run the ball 209 times for 1,337 yards and 13 TDs (6.4 ypc.) He was also productive in the passing game, hauling in 37 receptions for 292 yards and 2 scores. For his career, White carried the ball 631 times for 3,908 yards (6.2 ypc) and an impressive 45 TDs. His 69 career receptions will add to his value as well.
The following is FRG Scouting’s analysis of James White.
NAME: James White
40: 4.50 (EST)
Strengths: Feet, Balance, Vision, Burst
Weaknesses: Size, Strength
James White is a short but compact prospect…While he doesn’t present with the physical makeup of an every down back, he’s not “small”…Possesses very good feet, showing the ability to get to full speed in a hurry; a two-stepper…Good vision; finds the hole and hits it quickly…Displays good burst and can get through the hole in a hurry…Has enough long speed to take it to the house…Maintains his balance through contact…A coordinated athlete who is able to secure the reception and make a play after the catch…While not a powerful runner, White is able to slither through the line on inside running plays, displaying a low center of gravity and good pad level that helps him maximize yardage…On outside running plays, White possesses good vision and and understanding of cutback lanes; possesses enough juice to make a move and get upfield quickly.
While strong for his size, White does not project as a consistent inside runner in the NFL…Will struggle to break tackles versus NFL defenders…Has never been “the guy” on any level; questionable whether he can shoulder a full-time workload…Running style of a bigger man; doesn’t have a whole lot of “make you miss” in his game.
On the next level, James White projects as a depth player who is capable of giving a featured back a breather. White will produce in the NFL; there’s no doubt about that. But his skill set has been maximized by being part of a RBBC for, virtually, his entire playing career. While not as explosive as players like Bernard (Bengals) and Ellington (Cardinals), White could find himself in a similar role at some point as a rotational runner that carves out a niche in an offense.
GRADE: 6.0 (late-5th)