I was a huge fan of Chicago Bears wide receiver Kevin White coming out of college. I did a breakdown on him and I thought he was going to be a fantastic NFL player for whichever team decided to draft him. He was just a big, explosive dude who was a beast after the catch. He could go up high and get it and he could also make the tough catches in traffic. If you threw it in his vicinity you could just about bank on White coming down with the ball.
Unfortunately his first two seasons in the league have been marred by injuries. He had a stress fracture in his foot that robbed him of his entire rookie season. Then last season, just when it looked like he was starting to have confidence in his foot again and looking like the guy I remember from college, he ends up breaking his leg in the fourth game.
It was so disappointing because in the first game last season the guy actually looked relatively slow. But every week he looked a little bit faster and his production started picking up. That last game he already matched his season high with six catches with a whole quarter left to go.
Then, bam! On what looked like a routine tackle after he caught a screen pass in the red zone, White was hit right on his lower leg as he tried to make a move. Once again, he was done for the season.
It was such a shame because White was starting to look like a legit threat again, going up and snatching the ball out of the air with defenders hanging off of him. He had a catch over Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne like that in Week 3, and Claiborne, when he is healthy like he was last year, is pretty damn good now.
So White is still a guy with tremendous ability, it’s just that he has been hurt. But lets be honest here, most guys who still haven't broken out by their third year in the league either aren't very good or they have also been slowed by injury as White has been.
I don't buy into the "injury prone" bullshit because injuries are usually just random as hell. No amount of lifting weights was going to keep White from having a stress fracture, and no amount of conditioning would have kept his leg from breaking the way it did. Sometimes shit just happens. Guys just have to commit to their rehab so they can try to get after it again the next season.
With White, if he can finally stay healthy, he should have every opportunity to ball out. With Alshon Jeffery gone to Philly, he’ll have plenty of passes thrown in his direction. He only has 19 career receptions so he could easily double that this year, maybe even triple it which would certainly qualify him as a breakout player.
But it’s all going to come down to his health. After being snake-bitten his first two years in the league, I think fortune finally shines down on White and allows him to play most of if not the entire season. And if he does, you will finally see what all the fuss was about when he was coming out of college. That's why White is my choice for the Bears' breakout player of 2017.