Former Chicago Bears wide receiver Kevin White was Ryan Pace's first-ever first-round pick as the team's general manager way back in the 2015 NFL Draft. It was a selection met with excitement by Bears fans after White dazzled college football in 2014 with a spectacular senior season.
White finished his senior year with the Mountaineers totaling 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. He played like a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant and jockeyed with now-Cowboys wideout Amari Cooper throughout the 2015 draft cycle to be the first wide receiver drafted. That distinction ultimately went to Cooper, who was selected with the fourth overall pick by the Las Vegas (formerly Oakland) Raiders. Pace chose White three picks later at No. 7 overall.
After four injury-riddled seasons that failed to produce a single regular-season touchdown, the Bears moved on from White in 2019. He later signed with the Cardinals, who released him last August. White is currently out of football. At this point, it's safe to say he is one of the biggest draft busts in franchise history.
NBC Sports Chicago's JJ Stankevitz had an in-depth conversation with White about that bust label. It's a must-read for Bears fans.
It's natural for fans to look back at who their favorite team could've drafted anytime a first-round pick fails to deliver. In the case of the Bears and the 2015 draft, there were several quality players picked within 10 selections of White who could have produced at a high level for Chicago had Pace gone in another direction.
We decided to run a poll on Twitter asking which of the following players -- who were drafted in the 10 picks after White -- Bears fans would've preferred: Todd Gurley, Anrdus Peat, Marcus Peters or Arik Armstead. The results were pretty surprising:
After nearly 1,400 votes, fans would've preferred Gurley at No. 7 overall.
In 2015, who would you have drafted at #7 overall instead of Kevin White?— Bears Talk (@NBCSBears) May 26, 2020
Reply with another option if they aren’t included in the poll (we only get 4).
It's an interesting outcome considering Gurley was available in free agency this year after the Rams released him following two injury-plagued seasons. There was little if any call among Bears fans to sign him. Sure, Gurley enjoyed a pretty remarkable start to his career, but like White, it looks like injuries will impact his long-term sustainability.
Peters finished second in this poll, but it's surprising he wasn't the first choice. Peters is a two-time All-Pro at one of the most critically important positions in the sport. He's had five or more interceptions in four of his five seasons in the league and would've paired with Kyle Fuller to create one of the most dominant cornerback tandems in the NFL. Peters would've been Pace's best first-round pick as GM and it wouldn't be close.
And how about Peat coming in last by a pretty wide margin? With all the criticism the Bears' offensive line has received this offseason, having a player like Peat entrenched in the starting lineup would certainly be a plus. Peat, a two-time Pro Bowler, has evolved into one of the better interior players in the league.
Surprisingly, Titans edge rusher Vic Beasley, who was chosen by the Falcons one pick after White, received a few votes in the replies. I'm not sure why.
Beasley had a dominant second season in the league when he registered 15.5 sacks in 2016, but he's been an otherwise ineffective player along the lines of Leonard Floyd in every other year of his career. Beasley had a respectable eight sacks in 2019, but that's pretty much his ceiling at this point. And like Gurley, Beasley was available in free agency this year. The Bears, essentially, passed on him twice. And both times, they were right.
Unfortunately, the Bears were wrong with White. Maybe it's more accurate to say injuries prevented White from proving whether Pace was right with his assessment of his upside.