Updated: Jun 9
By Adam Aniba
Washington was busy post-draft, signing over a dozen UDFA's. We previously featured undrafted Virginia State cornerback Will Adams in the last UDFA Edition. In this report, another potential contributor on the defensive side of the ball, could gain attention during camp and the pre-season.
Notre Dame middle linebacker Drew White displayed true grit during the matchup vs Navy. He started at inside linebacker for the Fighting Irish, while dealing with a strained knee and tore his patella cruciate ligament in the matchup. He finished the game with a modest 2 tackles, but it was his leadership and perseverance that his defense fed off, holding the Midshipmen offense to only 184 total yards. White sat out the following game, but suited up and started the final 3 games, including the The Fiesta Bowl matchup vs Okl St (4 tackles)
6'0" 227 lbs | LB | Notre Dame
Career Stats (39 games) 199 total tak (109 solo), 21.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 1 ints,1 td, 4 PD & 4 FR
2021 (12 games) 55 total tak (30 solo), 4.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 1 ints, 1 td, 1 PD & 2 FR
White was a standout linebacker for high school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, FL. In fact, during his final season he led St. Thomas to a 13-2 record on the way to the school's 3rd consecutive Florida High School Athletic Association Class 7A championship His last year was his best, leading his team with 107 tackles (63 solo) and averaged 8.2 tackles per game. Their defense limited opponents to 9.4 points per game with five shutouts.
The team ranked #6 nationally and for his efforts, Thomas was ranked as the #17 ranked MLB in the country by ESPN. Thomas turned down scholarship offers from Missouri and Arkansas to attend Notre Dame. As a freshmen, Thomas spent season on scout team and did not see the field.
The following season, Thomas was only active for 2 games, based on a nagging foot injury, which dropped him to the bottom of the linebacker depth chart. Over the following three seasons, Thomas displayed his durability by playing in 37 games and was a leader on the Notre Dame defense.
During his graduate senior season in '21, (Pre-Med & Business) White recorded his first pick 6 (48 yards TD). As the season progressed, his gains in coverage were evident. Thomas also showed he could be an asset in coverage, recording 3 passes defended over the last two seasons. These might be minimal gains in retrospect, but the film shows a MLB that seems to be hitting his stride.
White excelles in run support and as a situational pass rusher. Over the last 2 seasons, he displayed the ability to be an effective communicator at MLB with the ability to make line adjustments.
During the Fighting Irish Pro Day, Thomas impressed with 4.65 forty time and displayed his strength with 22 bench press reps (Full Pro Day Numbers Below).
Arms: 30 1/8″
Wingspan: 73 5/8″
Vertical jump: 29″
40-yard dash: 4.67
20-yard shuttle: 4.2
Three-cone drill: 6.9
Cerebral linebacker that displays impressive instincts, which mask some of his deficiencies in coverage
Displays decent lateral mobility
Impressive burst off the snap with a nonstop motor
Dependable when facing the run with solid tackling technique
Compact/muscular frame allows him to get into tight spots when flowing to the ball
Impressive pass rushing ability in sub-packages
Coverage instincts are limited, but room for growth
Size was a factor at times, led block shedding issues
Countermoves & hand usage when facing tight ends/o-lineman require refinement
Too often bites on play-action
Lack of splash plays during his career (1st career int pick 6 last season)
Decent speed for the position, but appears stiff in his drop
Outlook & Projection
The FIghting Irish linebacker has an uphill battle to make the roster with presumptive MLB starter Cole Holcomb and veteran David Mayo likely backing him up. Depth is an issue with Jamin Davis and Khaleke Hudson the only other names to speak of. White is best suited to play middle linebacker, but he'll have to earn his stripes on special teams to make the roster.
Fans witnessed veteran MLB Jon Bostic go down early last season with a pectoral injury, so depth is always a concern for Washington. Although his limitations in coverage are evident, White's ability to contribute vs the run and as a pass rusher should gain DC Jack Del Rio's attention.
UDFA's are always a longshot to make an NFL roster, but standing out during camp and displaying intangibles are imperative. Making plays on special teams and showing coaches his ability to quickly adjust, is how White likely makes the final cut.
White has a legit shot to make the final 53-man roster, for a Commander's defense that needs more talent at linebacker. Even if the practice squad is his ultimate destination in '22, the Notre Dame linebacker has the makings of an overachiever that will have a long career in the NFL.
*Games Watched- 9/5/21 vs FSU, 9/11 vs Toledo, 9/18 vs Purdue, 9/25 vs Wisc, 10/2 vs UCin, 10/9 vs Va Tech, 10/23 vs USC, 10/30 vs UNC, 11/6 vs Navy, 11/20 vs Ga Tech, 11/27 vs Stanford & 1/1/22 vs Okl St