Former Chicago Bears first-round wide receiver Kevin White has been in the news this week following an interview about his playing time while in Chicago. White spoke in-depth with NBC Sports Chicago’s JJ Stankevitz regarding the injuries that limited his career and his playing time with the Bears. Although Bears fans are quick to lump him with other Bears first-round picks that turned out to be busts including wide receiver David Terrell, the former West Virginia wide receiver doesn’t deserve to be associated with that group.
White and Terrell both had parallel careers with the Bears as they were both top-ten draft choices, were viewed as the best receiver in their draft class, and had their best seasons cut short by significant injuries. Heading into the 2015 NFL draft, Chicago needed to draft a wide receiver due to the departure of All-Pro wide receiver Brandon Marshall. White appeared to be that receiver as many draft analysts were comparing his potential to that of All-Pro Julio Jones.
Back in 2001, The Bears had many needs on both offense and defense. The team failed to live up to expectations in 2000, winning just five games. Although Chicago had a reliable receiving group in place already with Marcus Robinson, Marty Booker, and Dez White, the team decided to use the eighth overall selection in the 2001 NFL Draft on Terrell. The Michigan wide receiver was the best talent available as Chicago passed on several defensive players and wide receivers that would go on to have Pro-Bowl careers.
Terrell and White’s time with the Bears were intriguing, as both players were vastly different from one another. The 2001 first-round pick instantly rubbed fans the wrong way when he held out at the start of training camp in his rookie season. Furthermore, Terrell was very open when it came to celebrating every catch, as was the norm with a majority of wide receivers in the early 2000s. He would go on to have somewhat of a disappointing rookie season catching 34 passes for 415 yards and four touchdowns. When the team lost their top receiver in Robinson early in the season, it was Booker that stepped up, and not Terrell.
In 2002, Terrell looked like he was ready to become the big-play receiver that the Bears envisioned. He caught nine passes for 127 yards along with three touchdown catches in the first five games of the season. Oddly enough, his longest reception of the season would be his last as he broke his foot after hauling in a 52-yard reception against Green Bay in week 5. In his final two seasons with the Bears in 2003 and 2004, Terrell would average just one touchdown, 42 receptions, and 530 reception yards.
Chicago would move on from Terrell following the 2004 season. He would go down as one of the worst draft picks in Bears’ history. What makes his Bears career even more frustrating was that Terrell was given all the opportunities to prove himself as a top-tier receiver and failed to do so. In an interview with Pro Football Talk in 2013, the former Michigan receiver blamed his poor career with the Bears on the quarterbacks he played with at the time.
White, on the other hand, had the opportunities available to him, but could not take advantage due to bad misfortune. He missed his entire rookie season due to a stress fracture, missed 12 games of his second season with a broken ankle, and had his 2017 season end in the season opener against the Falcons following a broken shoulder blade. He played sparingly in 2018 under head coach Matt Nagy as it appeared that the new head coach had no role for the wide receiver. White’s best season came in 2016 when he caught 19 passes for 187 yards. In the two games leading up to his injury that season, he caught six passes in each of his last two games, appearing ready to take the next step.
It is disappointing that White’s career with the Bears did not work out, but unlike Terrell, it wasn’t due to a failure in talent or character. Chicago’s 2015 first-round selection suffered several freak injuries that robbed him of showing the team and the city what he was capable of when healthy. In the few catches White had in his last season with the Bears, fans were able to see glimpses of the talent he once possessed. Terrell demonstrated on several occasions that the team simply missed on their draft selection of him back in 2001.
Bears’ football is filled with players who failed to live up to their draft potential, and it was shown the moment they got on the field. Although White couldn’t live up to the enormous draft expectations set for him, he doesn’t deserve to be associated in the same group that includes Cade McNown, Curtis Enis, and Terrell. Even after his time with the Bears, the former 2015 pick blames himself and felt the need to apologize for not being successful, something the 2001 draft selection failed to due.