The Redskins' inside linebacker corps got a little smaller last week when the team released veteran Zach Brown.
The move was made for a variety of reasons – to clear cap space and because head coach Jay Gruden believes in the development of Shaun Dion Hamilton – and it signaled that 2019 will feature some new faces in the middle of the defense.
While Mason Foster is still in line to return to the competition as the Mike linebacker spot, and Reuben Foster waits to hear from the league regarding a potential suspension, the Redskins could still add to the group in the first round of the NFL Draft, at least according to The Ringer’s draft expert Danny Kelly.
He has the Redskins pursuing LSU inside linebacker Devin White with the 15th-overall pick, calling him an “athletic sideline-to-sideline linebacker who plays with a berserker’s tenacity.”
In three of the last four drafts, the Redskins have focused their first-round selection on the trenches, which has produced sound results. But that’s also meant passing up on extremely athletic players, particularly when it comes to speed.
Kelly writes more about what separates White from his peers.
“White’s a sideline-to-sideline linebacker with range in coverage and rare burst. The first-team AP All-American and Butkus Award winner as the top linebacker in the country is a creative, explosive blitzer, slashing through the offensive line like he’s taking a basketball to the rim. He reads blocks to sniff out screens. He’s comfortable dropping back over the middle of the field, and while he didn’t do it often at LSU, he has the athleticism to run with running backs and tight ends in man coverage.”
White ran his 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds at the NFL Combine and at 6-foot, 237 pounds he’s got a lot of potential -- it's why Kelly believes “he could develop into an elite middle-of-the-field defender.”
In fact, the first line of his LSU athletic bio states that White is “one of the best players to ever play at LSU.” Originally a running back, White transitioned to linebacker in his freshman year and went on to amass impressive stats with the Tigers in three seasons.
He finished his LSU career with 286 total tackles, 29 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, including nine turnovers – four fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles and an interception.
The 2018 team MVP was also a first-team All-American and earned two different SEC Defensive Player of the Week awards. White led the SEC in total tackles with 123, recording 12 tackles for loss, three sacks, eight QB hurries and six pass breakups, forcing three fumbles and recovering a pair of fumbles.
His game against Texas A&M was the most impressive, as he collected 17 tackles against the Aggies, with four coming for a loss, along with a forced fumble.
According to his NFL Network draft profile, “White is still learning to take on blocks and play with better control/efficiency, but he's a willing pupil and coaching should improve both areas. White's work ethic, competitiveness, and rare play speed are elements that can't be taught and should push him into an early starter's role and a successful NFL career.”