The 2018 NFL season is a make or break year for Chicago Bears wide receiver Kevin White who is in the final year of his rookie contract. White has spent the majority of his Bears career on injured reserve as severe injuries have limited him to just four and a half games in three years. If he is able to stay healthy, the former seventh overall pick could finally prove why it was worth it for the Bears to draft him back in 2015.
New head coach Matt Nagy has given White every opportunity to prove that he can be a significant contributor in his new offensive scheme. He has made the most of his opportunity as he as seen the most playing time of the projected offensive starters this pre-season playing in three games. White has been targeted by second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky during the limit time Trubisky has been on the field.
Against Denver in Week 2 of the NFL preseason, he drew a defensive pass interference call that netted over 30 yards and this past Saturday caught his first career touchdown catch on a 29-yard pass from Chase Daniels. Even more impressive was his ability to beat a veteran cornerback showing that his speed and agility had returned.
If White a main piece for the offense when the season starts September 9th in Green Bay, He will have a large opportunity to succeed. Unlike last season, Trubisky will have a much more talented group of receivers to throw to including White, Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Taylor Gabriel.
Opposing defenses will most likely look to take away Robinson who is a former Pro-Bowler and is viewed as a legitimate number one receiver. With defenses focusing in to take away the Bears’ number one wide receiver, White could face a lot of winnable single coverage matchups. Furthermore, Robinson is returning from a torn ACL that cost him all but one game last season. If he isn’t fully healthy, that could lead to Trubisky targeting White a lot more often.
White’s ability to get open could be made even easier with tight end Trey Burton working over the middle or the team using running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen to freeze defenses using play actions. He is similar to Robinson as he is a big-bodied wide receiver who can work outside, inside, and win 50/50 passes due to his size.
It could be difficult for defenses to game plan for White given the small sample size of games he has played, especially playing in the different offensive system. It was in 2016 when he had the biggest playing as he appeared in three and a half games before breaking his leg in week four against the Detroit Lions. In that span, White caught 19 passes for over 187 yards. Projected over a 16 game season, that would have equated to 76 catches for 748 yards.
If the Bears were to get that type of production in 2018 from White, the team would most likely need to resign or risk losing him in free agency. It would also prove that he isn’t a draft bust but rather was stricken with bad injury luck over his career.
A productive White would be a tremendous benefit for everyone including Trubisky, Nagy, and general manager Ryan Pace whose first-ever draft choice was the selection of embattled wide receiver. The possibility of White’s production hinges on his health, but it remains uninjured it could mean a change of fortune for him.