When it comes to the safety class in 2018, a few names jump out at you. Guys like Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James, Ronnie Harrison, and Justin Reid will be the first names called next week. However, there are other names in the class that can be impact players for a defense. One of those players is West Virginia safety Kyzir White.
What Does He Offer?
Traditionally, most safeties either will play more as a deep safety in coverage, or a box safety who plays more like a linebacker. Obviously, with versatile defenses becoming more popular, many safeties are doing multiple things on defense. For a player like White, his best fit will be in a box safety role. However, that doesn’t diminish the impact he could have.
White plays extremely aggressive near the line of scrimmage. He has the build of a smaller linebacker which fits today’s NFL. His best trait is his explosiveness coming upfield, attacking downhill with good acceleration off the snap and the quickness to find holes and get in the backfield with ease. One of his best plays of the past season came against Virginia Tech. He was lined up near the line of scrimmage and completely blew up a running play with his explosiveness off the snap and his quickness to get into the backfield.
Above, I discussed that White’s best fit is as a box safety. However, he did play some in the slot in his time at West Virginia. The fact that he played in multiple spots shows some versatility in his part. This versatility could also land White a gig as a dime linebacker in addition to playing safety.
Where Does He Need To Improve?
While White is an extremely tough, aggressive player near the line of scrimmage, there are things that show up on tape that need to be addressed. For one, being aggressive is a good thing, but too much of a good thing sometimes isn’t good. Sometimes, that aggressiveness leads to easy missed tackles. I would like to see White refine his tackling form and get to a point where he wraps up more than he hits with his shoulder.
Another think White needs to work on is his footwork in coverage. He does play quick on the field, but there are times where he was lined up in the slot and he played extremely flat-footed. If White wants to be on the field more, working on his footwork and technique could help him get on the field as a cover guy.
The other concern with White is his speed in open space. When you see him running straight line in space, White looks significantly slower than other players in his secondary and (more importantly) skill players on opposing teams. If his play speed stays that slow, he will not be able to adjust to the next level, where players are bigger, faster, and stronger.
Right now, Kyzir White sits at a late day two grade for me. While he has plenty of prowess as a box safety and a safety/linebacker hybrid, he struggles a lot in space with his technique and speed. He will certainly find a role in the NFL, but he needs to continue to develop his instincts as a hybrid linebacker and his tackling form. There is upside there, he just has to unlock it.
White has a fit with practically every team that could use safety or linebacker help. Look for him to go on day two of the draft.
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