The first draft pick of the Ryan Pace era in Chicago was the seventh pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, Kevin White. One of the top two receivers in the 2015 draft alongside Raiders receiver Amari Cooper. He was noted for his top end speed and high jumping point, two quality traits to have in a receiver. Here’s what happened to bring the Bears to decline his fifth-year option.
He transferred to West Virginia in 2013 after starting at a local college in Pennsylvania. He had a limited role in his junior year with 35 receptions, 507 yards, and five touchdowns. Despite the lower receptions numbers, he found the end zone, and everyone was able to see his potential. He exploded in his senior year with 109 receptions, 1,447 yards, and 10 touchdowns. He was a finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award which was ultimately won by Amari Cooper.
Fast forward to the combine and Kevin White came in at a near 6’3”, 215 pounds, prime wide receiver size. He ran a 4.35 40 yard dash and had a 36 ½ inch vertical. Most mock drafts had Kevin White going to the Raiders at number four in the draft. Come draft day the Raiders would pass on Kevin White to draft Amari Cooper and Kevin White would fall into the Bears lap at number seven. What a steal! Prototypical size, speed, and hands to boot. He’s going to be the next big receiver!
Until he immediately hurt his shin in off-season activities. White would have surgery in August and be placed on the Bears physically unable to perform list and never see the field for his rookie season. It was just a small roadblock that everyone thought he was going to come back even better now. He would play the first four games of his “second year” in the league and accumulate 19 receptions for 187 yards before breaking his fibula in his left leg. The same leg he had surgery on the year prior. Last year, Kevin White had a great preseason and earned the starting job on a depleted Bears receiver core. In the first game of the year he would fracture his shoulder blade and miss the rest of the season.
Despite rumors over the early off-season that Kevin White was in better shape than he has ever been, there’s no denying the Bears choice to decline the option for next year. Kevin White has went from a prolific college receiver with all the right measurables to an injury prone bust. Where does this leave Kevin White and the Bears for the 2018 season? Whether he is trying to prove it to the Bears or the rest of the league, this is a make or break year for White. The Bears drafted two mid-round receivers this year, Anthony Miller and Javon Wims. Even without those two there was no doubt that White was going to have a limited role in the offense with the signings of Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. All Kevin White needs to do this year to prove something is stay healthy. If he can do that he may have a shot in the future to reach his full potential.