New Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy met with members of the media on Tuesday morning to discuss many topics relating to the team. One of the topics discussed was Nagy’s take on the Bears 2015 first round pick, wide receiver Kevin White.
The new head coach was high on hoping for the best for White and that he would get every possibility to prove himself. Bears fans may be frustrated with White’s injury-plagued career so far, but he deserves support heading into his fourth and possibly final year with the Bears in 2018.
When the Bears drafted White in 2015, he was considered one of the best wide receivers in that draft and many compared his potential upside to the likes of Julio Jones and Dez Bryant. He was seen as a rare mix of size and speed as he measured 6-foot-3 and posted a 4.35 40 time at the NFL Combine. White failed to play a single snap his rookie season as he suffered a stress fracture in his left leg during off-season training programs.
The injury was so severe that a steel rod had to be inserted into his left Tibia to heal.
Bears management did White no favors in training camp that season as they continually hinted that he was suffering from shin splints from training too hard for the combine and that he was listed as just “day-to-day”. When the team finally released the severity of his injury and place him on the Physically Unable to Perform list, it was too late as many fans and media members began questioning the team drafting him with the seventh overall pick.
White returned in 2016 and played in four games before suffering a fractured left fibula against the Detroit Lions in week 4. It was a horrific injury as a Lion’s defender landed on his leg while it was already planted in the ground.
Although appearing in limited time, White compiled 19 catches and 187 yards in just a quarter of a season. In the two games leading up to injury, he was showing signs of progression as he caught 12 passes in last four quarters of football he played in.
Heading into last season, there was pressure for White to stay healthy and to perform to avoid being deemed injury prone and a draft bust. Sadly, he was unable to do so after he suffered a broken shoulder blade in the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons finishing with just two catches for six yards. White future was further put into question when the team hired Nagy in January earlier this year.
When Nagy met with the media during the annual Coaches’ Meetings on Tuesday, he said he was intrigued with White’s situation:
Matt Nagy said he is “really intrigued” to work with Kevin White. Emphasized he wasn’t making any promises, but repeated the sentiment that he will do his best to put White in position to succeed.
— Kevin Fishbain (@kfishbain) March 27, 2018
Nagy can find a spot for White in his offense and although he may not be the speedster the Bears thought he would be, there might be some value.
Unlike Bears wide receiver draft picks from before, White’s situation is different because he hasn’t been on the field long enough to be ruled a successful or wasted draft pick by general manager Ryan Pace. Former drafted wide receivers like David Terrell, Mark Bradley, and Dez White had three or more healthy seasons to prove themselves on the field before any determination was made about them. Furthermore, they also were able to play in the same offensive scheme for multiple seasons.
In his fourth season in the league, White will be learning his third playbook as he had to learn two different offensives even before stepping onto the field for an NFL game. He has had a tremendous demeanor through the harsh setbacks that have plagued his promising career. With every injury, he has fought to come back stronger and has remained readied to prove himself.
If White stays healthy and finally lives up to his potential, it would be a tremendous benefit for many on the Bears. It would provide the new offensive coaching staff with another offensive weapon to compliment new wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. Another big bodied target would only benefit the growth of second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. It would also prove that Pace made the right decision in his first draft as GM and that he has a strong ability in drafting quality talent.
It is easy for fans of any team to be frustrated at a top draft pick for not living up to their potential, but the situation with White is different.
He didn’t hold out for more money for his rookie contract nor has been a difficult teammate in the locker room. When it pertains to injuries, there are some players who can’t stay healthy because they don’t train properly and there are those who just have terrible luck. This season will be the final chance White will get with the Bears and it is better to hope for his success due to the massive dividends it would pay for all involved.