The 2022 NFL Draft is loaded with potential mid-round steals at running back. One of those players is Arizona State’s Rachaad White. After spending the first two years of his college career at Mt. San Antonio Junior College in Walnut, California, White transferred to Arizona State in 2020. He immediately made an impact for the Sun Devils, finishing top 10 in the PAC-12 in rushing yards both years. Furthermore, his 15 rushing touchdowns in 2021 were the third-most in the conference. What does White’s NFL future look like? Let’s dive into it.
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Name: Rachaad White
Jersey: No. 3
Position: Running Back
School: Arizona State
Class: Redshirt Senior
Weight: 214 lbs
Games Watched: BYU (2021), USC (2021), Washington (2021)
Major Injury History: None
When he sees an open running, White will hit it more times than not. His vision between the tackles is outstanding. He can find the way through traffic and get to the second level quickly. One second he appears to be tackled for a lost. Then the next second, White is into the second level. While that is good, he struggles to see the bounce outside lanes. If the correct running lane is between the tackle box, White will find out. However, he rarely took the bounce outside running lane when available.
Contact Balance (8.25/10)
While he isn’t built like a tank or Derrick Henry, White won’t get tackled without a fight. Once in and while, he will get tackled down by an ankle tackler. However, those are far and few between. White has the lower body power and drive to shake off weaker tackle attempts by linebackers and defensive backs. There were several examples of White powering through contact without losing a step or balance in the three games watched.
Ideally, White would have home run ability and an explosive step around the edge. However, that isn’t the case. Yet, he has the explosiveness when running downhill. On the plays where he hits the second level between the tackles, White is capable of exploding by flat-footed linebackers. While he can’t blow by every defender on the field, White will make those who aren’t ready to tackle regret it.
Long Speed (8/10)
Does White have elite breakaway speed like Breece Hall or Kenneth Walker? No. However, defensive backs better not think they can take a poor tackling angle and get away with it against White. He doesn’t have the explosive home run ability you would see in a superstar running back. Yet, there are plenty of examples during his time at Arizona State where White ripped off 40 or more yard runs.
Short-Area Burst (7.75/10)
Given his size, White has good burst in tight spaces. He possesses an impressive jump cut and hesitation move. White would repeatedly beat defenders to the spot in tight areas with his quickness and burst. Even in the open field in one-on-one situations against a linebacker or a safety, White showed quick burst off a hesitation move. Furthermore, there were times where he appeared tackled for a lost only to outmaneuver a defender and create positive yardage thanks to his burst.
Change of Direction (8/10)
If an NFL team wants to see White dance around and repeatedly change direction like Christian McCaffrey or D’Andre Swift, they will be massively disappointed. White’s game isn’t built for the flashy make multiple defenders look silly highlight reels. However, he can set up defenders one-on-one in space and make them appear stuck in the mud. Several times in the games watched, White would get to the second level, give a defender a hesitation move and then quickly explode in the other direction. He could fake left, and as soon as the defender opened his hips in that direction, White would explode to the right and leave the defender behind.
If you’re a defender and planning on taking White head-on, you better get lower than he does and hope your teammates help gang tackle. Otherwise, White will power through you. He isn’t built like Nick Chubb and doesn’t have the same talent level. However, he is similar to Chubb with his ability to drive the pile of defenders forward. White also will fight for every yard, twisting and pushing until he’s on the ground, especially around the goal line or on third down.
Ball Security (9.75/10)
White played in 15 of 17 games in his two years at Arizona State. During that time, he had only one fumble. When running, White protects the ball. He always has two hands on it when in traffic. Furthermore, White will keep the ball in his outside arm when running down the sidelines. If not for the one fumble against Arizona, he would have scored a perfect 10 for this trait. NFL teams have nothing to worry about with White and holding onto the ball.
Receiving Ability (8.75/10)
Now, this is the trait where White really shines. Not only can he play a role in the passing game from the backfield, but White can also take snaps lined up out wide or in the slot as a receiver. Arizona State moved him around the formation at times to create mismatches. White can play a similar role in the NFL with the right team. More importantly, White has natural hands. He rarely used his body to make the catch, often extending his arms out in front of him to secure the ball. His ability to run Texas routes out of the backfield will create problems for slower and flat-footed linebackers in man coverage.
Pass Protection (2/5)
As great as White is in the receiving game, he is equally bad in pass protection. The good news is White has a desire to pass protect, and not by throwing himself at a blitzer’s legs and hoping for the best. White will put his body on the line to protect the quarterback. However, his form is nonexistent. Instead of squaring up and engaging the blitzer, White will throw his shoulder into him, hoping to knock him over. Furthermore, White needs to speed up his clock when scanning in pass protection. Too often, he would get caught looking one way when a delayed blitzer is coming right for the quarterback from the other side or even up the middle in the A gap.
Overall, White deserves more hype heading into the draft. He won’t become a superstar running back. However, he belongs in the conversation as the fourth running back drafted behind Hall, Walker, and Isaiah Spiller. White can offer something most mid-round running backs in this draft class can’t: receiving upside. His ability to create mismatches in the passing game can’t be understated, especially given the pass-happy NFL of today.
White can handle a lead role as a rookie if asked. However, he is likely better off in a No. 2 role, getting some early-down work while providing a new wrinkle in the passing game. That said, don’t be surprised if he has a similar career path as David Johnson. White would start as a rotational player before turning into the featured running back in year two or three, similarly to Johnson.
Rookie Projections: No. 2 Guy in Committee
Third Year Projections: Potential Featured Back
Final Grade (80.75/100): Early Third-Round Pick
Player Comp: David Johnson
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