Chris Gross will be in the film room for Turn On The Jets breaking down all eight of the New York Jets draft selections. Today we look at 7th round pick, wide receiver Jordan White. (At the bottom of the article, I offer a brief commentary on White from the film I have watched). – JC
With the 244th overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Wide Receiver Jordan White out of Western Michigan. In a move that first seemed to be New York looking to add some wide receiver depth to increase the competition heading into camp, this selection has the potential to be much more significant to the Jets. When putting in the game film of Western Michigan from last season, there are several things about Jordan White that jump off the screen right away. He is very confident, extremely tough, and runs some of the best routes you will see from any wide receiver in the draft this year.
Before becoming the Jets’ version of Mr. Irrelevant, White was posting Biletnikoff worthy numbers at Western Michigan. Last season, he caught an astonishing 140 balls for 1,911 yards and 17 touchdowns. Remember, Biletnikoff Trophy winner Justin Blackmon had 121 receptions for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns. Not to compare the two, but White’s production as a Bronco should certainly be noted. In 2011, White also had 8 games with over 10 receptions, including a season high 16 against Toledo, a game in which he racked up 238 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also had 7 multi touchdown games last year, and had at least one catch of 20 yards or more in every contest, including his season long 61 yarder against Ball State.
Prior to 2011, White also had 94 receptions for 1,378 yards and 10 touchdowns as a Junior. At Western Michigan, he was undoubtedly the workhorse of an offense that averaged over 35 points per game in 2011, while establishing himself as Quarterback Alex Carder’s unquestioned favorite target.
White’s immense production at Western Michigan can be linked to countless aspects of his game. His ability to find holes in coverages and create separation for himself is equivalent to, if not better than, some polished NFL veterans. He has excellent awareness, strong hands, and his route running has the capability of translating to the NFL immediately. He uses double moves effectively, and is very intelligent, constantly knowing when to cut routes short, or extend them.
One of the most important factors that hurt White’s draft stock was his limited sample of play against elite competition. Having played in the MAC West, White was hampered by the notion that he was excelling at a lower level, and could not have that same type of success in the NFL. However, in White’s small amount of play against more respected football programs, he rose to the calling in a big way. In 2011, three of his most productive games came against Big Ten opponents. In the season opener against Michigan, White had 12 catches for 119 yards. Against Illinois, who was ranked in the AP top 25 at the time, he tallied 14 receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown. And in White’s last game as a Bronco, the 2011 Little Caesars Bowl against Purdue, he reeled in 13 balls for 265 yards and 1 touchdown. Although the experience may not be great, he has certainly shown that he can succeed against higher-level defenses when asked to.
Along with the notion of not having faced enough elite competition, White’s physical traits were most likely the reasons for his draft slide. He does not possess the elite size, standing just under 6’0” 208 lbs, nor does he have the speed (4.69 40) to make him a number one receiver in the NFL. Many times in the draft, production like White’s takes a backseat to potential, especially in the later rounds.
Although White does have several positive aspects to his game, there are certainly some holes as well. He does not have great elusiveness, but makes up for it with his willingness to fight for extra yards. He is not going to make many people miss after the catch, but he will plug straight ahead and use his drive and strength to get the most out of every play. White also has much better speed coming out of his breaks than his 40 time would suggest, however it is unclear on how much that will assist his game at the next level.
While White does have good hands, and will make some spectacular catches at times, his range is very limited by his size and speed. Often times on deep routes, if the ball was slightly out of his reach, White would have difficulty transitioning to make the play. However, it is highly unlikely that he will be asked to run deep routes in the NFL, so this should not affect his play too significantly. He also needs to work on selling his routes on run plays to the opposite side of the field.
So how can White fit with the Jets? Of the games I watched on him last year, I could not help but compare his play to that of Jerricho Cotchery’s. White will never be a true number one receiver in this league, but has the potential to be a vital piece of any passing game. He was most productive last season between the 20’s, with 116 of his 140 catches coming in that area. This could make him a very valuable weapon to keep the chains moving throughout drives. Although most of his catches in 2011 came on first down with 63, he was also very effective on third downs, averaging 12.6 YPC. He could develop into a very nice third down safety net for Mark Sanchez. He is strong, smart, and most importantly, consistent. Sanchez would love to have someone he can consistently rely on, other than Dustin Keller.
For White, his place with the Jets will ultimately come down to a few key things: how well he picks up the offense, how he takes advantage of what limited reps he will get in practice, and the type of relationship he develops with Sanchez. While I do not think that any of these things will be a problem for White, especially with how reliable he became to Carder at Western Michigan, coupled with his displayed intelligence and high work ethic, he is going to have to prove why he was so productive in college, and may only have a small window of opportunity to do so. White can also show his worth by contributing on Special Teams, something that I would fully expect him to be able to do.
Although there are certainly no guarantees in this league, especially for late round draft picks, I would not be surprised at all if White ended up beating out Patrick Turner, Scotty McKnight, Logan Payne, and Eron Riley for a roster spot. His production in college combined with his obvious work ethic shown on film actually makes it likely that White will end up having some type of role with the 2012 Jets. Although his impact this year may not be significant, Jordan White could develop into a very solid NFL player at some point down the road.
Editor’s Notes – I really like the comparison Chris made to Jerricho Cotchery because that is who I was consistently reminded of when watching film on White. It is impossible to ignore the astronomical numbers he put up, regardless of the level of competition. White has a natural ability to find the soft spot in a defense and has reliable hands, particularly in traffic. The main question for him is, can he consistently get separation from NFL caliber cornerbacks? The Jets could offset some of these issues by working White out of the slot, where I expect him to spend most of his time.
In the immediate future, White projects as a logical backup to Jeremy Kerley in the slot receiver role. He will need to beat Patrick Turner and Eron Riley for a roster spot this season and to do that he must make an impact on special teams.