ZaQuandre White participated in athletic testing at South Carolina’s Pro Day despite allegedly dealing with an ankle injury:
White was one of the most athletic high school running backs of all time. He reportedly ran a 4.51 in the forty with a 43.5-inch vertical back then. That considered, the above numbers are pretty disappointing. His jumps show that he’s still explosive, but he wasn’t impressive otherwise. While we can’t just ignore the numbers, I do think White is probably more athletic than they indicate. He says he tested at 85-percent. His high school numbers and game film suggest that that might be the case.
Either way, we have the numbers we have. Based on them, the following historical prospects are White’s most similar from an athletic and overall physical standpoint:
It’s encouraging that multiple backs have succeeded in the NFL after posting similar workout numbers to what White did. Even a Devin Singletary career arc would be a hit for someone not widely considered a top back in this class.
Another weird element of ZaQuandre White‘s profile is his history of production. He was a four-star recruit at running back who started his career at Florida State. They had him playing linebacker as a sophomore after he took a redshirt year. He then spent 2019 at Iowa Western Community College before heading to South Carolina for his final two seasons:
You won’t find me arguing that White had a quality college career. His best showing at the FBS level was a 25th-percentile Dominator Rating while sharing carries as a fifth-year senior. But I think his performance at the non-FBS level shows that there’s some untapped potential here.
Given the market share numbers White posted and the quality of teams he played for, the following historical prospects had the most similar seasonal numbers as well as complete college production profiles:
The overall production matches are all incredibly weak here given that White had an unconventional career path in college. But that junior year is in indicator that he could be a quality talent.
On very limited volume, White has been pretty damn good relative to quality teammates at South Carolina. His ancillary metrics indicate that he’s an explosive open-field runner who breaks a lot of tackles. He’s been more efficient overall and more consistent on a play-to-play basis than his teammates.
At Iowa Western, he actually outperformed the other backs on the team by 2.60 yards per carry. Good for team-relative efficiency better than the numbers posted at the non-FBS level by guys like David Johnson and Austin Ekeler.
He was then bad on a very small sample in 2020 before being excellent on a larger (but still relatively small) sample in 2021:
You have to squint to get there, but White being a good runner of the football isn’t out of the question. Given his physical profile in combination with the above metrics, the most similar historical prospects to him from a “pure runner” perspective are:
Ryan Williams never really had a shot in the NFL after getting injured very early on, but he was a stud at Virginia Tech. Melvin Gordon is obviously great. Both Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Roy Helu have been contributors on pro teams. You could do much worse on a comps list for a guy with 104 career (non-community college) carries.
Yet another strange aspect of ZaQuandre White‘s profile is his receiving resumé:
While (again) on low volume, White was actually fairly involved as a receiver at South Carolina considering that his overall role in the offense was not large. His Satellite Score shows that his Target Share represented more than 50-percent of his Dominator Rating.
He was also pretty efficient, though much of that per-touch value came from yardage he gained after the catch. Also concerning is his very low Catch Rate.
Given the above metrics, here are the historical prospects whose receiving profiles most closely resemble White’s:
Receiving ability is hard to evaluate for running back prospects. And that difficulty is reflected in the varying talents of these comps. I’m less convinced of White’s potential to be a three-down player now than I was earlier this offseason. At the very least, he’s a dynamic player who is good out in space.
ZaQuandre White is probably the weirdest running back in this class. His athletic profile is weird. His production profile is weird. The rushing efficiency numbers are hard to trust given such a small sample. And he was bizarrely involved while seemingly not very polished as a receiver.
The range of outcomes for him is incredibly wide. It’s very possible that he just isn’t good enough to play in the NFL and never does anything in the league. It’s also possible that he’s an explosive, unconventional runner with unrealized athleticism who never got much of a chance to show how good he was. Considering the relative weakness of this class, the flashes White has shown are enough for me to be optimistic about him at cost.
The following comps lists give a full-picture look into a player in two areas. The “raw traits” comp takes production out of the equation and just looks at players who are most similar to White in a vacuum, based on physical attributes as well as on-field efficiency. The overall comp considers those same things while also taking production into account:
The low scores here are reflective of White’s wonky profile, but the names are encouraging.
If everything shakes out right, he’s a good athlete with good size and a history of both high-end production and efficient play. There are much worse bets to make in rookie drafts, even if his floor is lower than most.