Understandably, fans don’t want to hear about how good Kevin White can be or how big an impact he can have. Not when he’s had so much trouble simply staying on the field. But while I don’t think anybody is still projecting White to be a star, it would be foolish to rule him out. The Bears clearly have a plan for White and how much of an impact he makes in 2018 will be up to him…and his fragile body.
Ryan Pace invested quite a bit in Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and second-round pick Anthony Miller. They are going to play. That doesn’t mean White isn’t. Matt Nagy’s offense has four wide receiver positions: X, Y, Z and Zebra.
Nagy has said Gabriel will be the Zebra and Miller will be the Z (playing in the slot). With every offense being slightly different, Robinson will either be the X or the Y. That leaves a “starting” position in this offense for White to earn in Bourbonnais.
And by all accounts, White looked exceptionally fast at the team’s minicamp two weeks ago. He showed deep speed last year as well, but they had Mike Glennon at quarterback so it didn’t really matter. If you watch the All-22 footage, you can see White regularly out-racing corners and threatening Atlanta’s defense deep. That’s exactly what the Bears are going to ask him to do, playing the same role Chris Conley did for Kansas City.
It is not unprecedented for Kansas City’s style of offense to use all four receiver positions. In 2016, the Chiefs had four guys on the outside get at least 50 targets and likely would’ve gotten close to that again in 2017 if Conley hadn’t gotten injured in the team’s fifth game. The opportunities will be there for White, if he earns them.
Of course, the Bears aren’t handing anything to White either.
Should he struggle — or worse, get hurt — they can play Gabriel on the outside with Miller in the slot. And Bennie Fowler’s signing was clearly an insurance policy for another White injury.
However, it seems that with so many players learning the offense and Miller being a rookie, they’d rather keep as many roles as clearly defined as possible. You can expect White to get somewhere between 25 and 50 targets — likely still fourth on the team — but many of those will be down the field.
When Nagy said the Bears were going to give White a shot, it wasn’t just lip service. The new Bears coach has a plan for receiver. Now it’s up to the player to execute it.