Zamir White 2021 NFL draft

2021 NFL Draft: Zamir White’s spectacular talent limited by injury history

May 30, 2020

Georgia running back Zamir White is a spectacular talent. This isn’t a surprise, either. He’s been widely regarded as a spectacular talent since his time at Scotland High School in Laurinburg, North Carolina.

White was rated as the No. 1 running back in the country and a five-star prospect as a high school recruit before committing to Georgia where he would face a challenging road to playing time in a program known for producing NFL running backs.

White faced a bigger challenge than just the depth chart, however. His career with the Bulldogs got off to a terrible start when he tore the ACL in his left knee during a team scrimmage in August 2018. It was the second-straight season that he’d suffer a torn ACL; he tore the ligament in his right knee in 2017.

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Back-to-back ACL tears will follow White through the 2020 season and into the 2021 NFL Draft cycle, assuming he declares after a full year as Georgia’s featured back. He flashed his immense upside in limited action in 2019; it was a promising display of raw talent that made him such a highly-regarded high school player.

White, who stands 6-0 and 215 pounds, plays even bigger than his already well-built frame. I’d expect he’ll continue to pack muscle and surpass the 220-pound mark by the time he’s a pro; 225 pounds isn’t out of the question. He already packs a powerful punch on contact that will only get more devastating with every rep in the weight room.

Athletically, White has borderline elite straight-line speed. His 40-yard dash was reported in the sub 4.4’s as a recruit and he showed those jets during the 2019 season. He has that extra gear when he senses paydirt and it doesn’t take him long to get to top speed. It’s a scary combination.

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White isn’t the most flexible prospect and his running style can appear a bit tight at times. He gears down to change directions. He’s more of a slasher who runs angry and violent. It’s important to remember his injury history when assessing his game entering 2020. Players coming off of back-to-back torn ACLs need time to regain confidence in their knee(s) and usually it’s the hard cuts and instinct moves that are the last to return. He’ll be two seasons removed from injury this fall, so we should see his complete make-you-miss skill set this year.

White’s ability to hang in pass protection was impressive for a redshirt freshman. His pass pro reps were limited in 2019, but there were some encouraging moments that, if spread across an entire season, will make him an even more appealing prospect.

Similarly, White didn’t have much of an opportunity to flash his ability as a receiver in 2019. He’ll get those reps in 2020.

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White is a one-cut-and-go running back who will be compared to Todd Gurley throughout the season, but he has traits that are very similar to another former Bulldog and NFL Hall of Famer, Terrell Davis. He’ll thrive in a zone system because of how explosive he is once he finds his running lane and hits it. He has a chance to be the most effective power runner in the class too because of how much bang he packs behind his pads.

White’s preseason evaluation is somewhat incomplete because of his limited exposure in the SEC. He also has to prove he can stay healthy. His knee injuries will probably be too much to overcome to crack the first round, but he certainly has the kind of talent that will generate that kind of buzz once April rolls around.

Assuming White has the kind of breakout season that’s expected, there’s no doubt he’ll be one of the first running backs picked in 2020.

Preseason grade: 2nd round (adjusted to 3rd round for injury)

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