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Draft Analyst Q&A: Evaluation on West Virginia WR Kevin White, Top NFL Prospects

Posted Jan 27, 2015

The play-making West Virginia senior is a NFL Draft prospect whom the 49ers Faithful want to know more about, so we got more background on the potential first-round selection.

Kevin White, a play-making West Virginia senior, is a NFL Draft prospect whom the 49ers Faithful want to know more about. So we got more background on the potential first-round selection.

The man with the evaluation is Bleacher Report's lead NFL Draft analyst, Matt Miller, who frequently shares his draft analysis with 49ers.com.

We spoke with Miller before the 2015 Senior Bowl, at the event itself and again on Tuesday morning to recap the college All-Star game.

As for Mr. White, the productive wideout's name came up several times when I asked fans to send in draft questions. Although White declined his Senior Bowl invite, we had Miller answer a handful of questions, including two on the Mountaineer receiver, in our latest "49ers Radio" podcast.

In the opening portion of our interview, we learned a couple of important takeaways from Miller:

-Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett and Utah defensive end Nate Orchard were “super impressive in Mobile.”

-Miller continued to be unimpressed with the '15 quarterback group. “Not a very good quarterback class," Miller said. "After the top two guys, there’s not much to put your hopes and dreams into.”

-Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota missed the opportunity to showcase his NFL-caliber throwing ability by sitting out of the Senior Bowl. “His pro day will be very big this year," Miller said.

-Miami cornerback Ladarius Gunter (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) fits the bill as a possible 49ers draft target because of his long arms. Minnesota running back David Cobb also caught Miller's eye as a possible San Francisco draft selection. "He looks like a younger Frank Gore out there," said the analyst who even tweeted the Cobb-to-49ers observation at the Senior Bowl.

-In-person interviews at the Scouting Combine is more important than on-field workout times, per Miller. "If you fail on your 40," he began, "you have a chance to run it again at your pro day or a private workout. If you fail in that interview portion or with the whiteboard, or whatever it might be, it's hard to erase that first impression. I think that is what's most important for the kids."

If you want to ask a pre-draft question, use the #49ersRadio hashtag.

And now to the questions...

He's an interesting player. I talked to his trainer, Scott Shanle, who was a linebacker for a long time in the NFL, and he told me (Lynden Trail) might be a better tight end. He's just a freak athlete. I actually like his upside a little bit better at tight end. You look at him as an outside linebacker, 6-6, 260, he's very long, but I think he lacks power and explosion, especially in his lower half. But as a tight end, he has phenomenal size with those long arms. He's going to be a bit of a project, but if you're drafting a kid, and I have him as a fifth-sixth rounder at this point, I would take a chance on him at tight end. If that doesn't work out, maybe you kick him back over to defense.

That's a great question. I think (defensive lineman) Carl Davis from Iowa, started that move up when we were at the Senior Bowl. He started the year as a late, first-round prospect, and then he was a little inconsistent at times. But I definitely think he's moving up into that top 32. His athleticism and the need for players to rush the passer from defensive tackle, I think that's all going to combine to push him up.

Justin Smith is a hard guy to replace. But when you're talking about playing his position (defensive tackle in a 3-4 scheme), I would look at Mario Edwards out of Florida State. I would look at Arik Armstead out of Oregon. Those would probably be the two guys who we're not talking about as first-round picks but round-two guys who could play that five-technique spot. I'll tell you what though, I'm a big fan of Tank Carradine. Taking away his (college knee) injury, I thought he was a top-5 player a few years ago. I'm excited to see what he can do.

I would always default to the best player available in that scenario. So I would look at Kevin White or (Louisville wide receiver) DeVante Parker. I do like (Michigan wide receiver) Devin Funchess and his versatility (to play tight end). But more importantly, you have to draft the best player. We'll see how much of a need tight end will be after free agency. I think wide receiver and downfield speed is such a big need for them right now. A guy like Funchess wouldn't be a very good value right now at (pick) 15.

I've been on this job a long time but not 15 years. I don't agree with that. I thought Desmond Trufant was probably a little better. I love Marcus Peters though. He's interesting because he got dismissed from the University of Washington. In the background work that I've done, the previous coaching staff, who is now at USC, they loved the kid. They had nothing but great things to say about him. I still think he's a first-round player. I think he'll be a high-level cornerback. He has all of the size. He's explosive. He catches the ball very well, so he's definitely a very exciting kid.

I'd compare him to a taller DeAndre Hopkins, who plays for the Houston Texans. He has that ability to be a deep threat but also make plays off the ground. He has the speed and the burst to make plays after the catch as well. Maybe DeAndre Hopkins is a little under the radar in terms of NFL talent, but I think Kevin White will have a similar type of impact and be a guy who could be a true number one receiver at the next level.


I think the best cornerback would be Marcus Peters, but I would put Trae Waynes from Michigan State right there with him. The best coverage linebacker would be Shaq Thompson from Washington. He's obviously versatile. He can play running back; he can play safety. He's kind of that new-age, 230-pound linebacker who never has to leave the field. He's a very athletic, high-potential player. I think he has to get comfortable at one spot because he has been moved around so much.

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