The NFL comparisons that new Bucs running back Rachaad White is facing are a bit daunting for the team’s third-round pick.

Le’Veon Bell.

Marcus Allen.

Eric Dickerson.

Allen and Dickerson are two Pro Football Hall of Famers while Bell is a two-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler.

The 6-foot, 214-pound White, a two-year star at Arizona State, has a patient, unconventional, upright running style that is reminiscent of some of the great NFL backs previously mentioned. Only time will tell if he can even come close to the production of those three famous runners.

While White prefers to be his own man, he admits that he has watched some of Bell and emulated his style of patient running.

Former Bucs RB Le'Veon Bell

Former Bucs RB Le’Veon Bell – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“For me growing up, I watched Le’Veon Bell a lot,” White said. “I watched Jamaal Charles a lot, and I watched Arian Foster a lot. They would all be the three backs I like to watch a lot. I still watch their highlights. I’m just kind of a football junkie. I’ll be on YouTube watching guys’ highlights when it comes to older backs.”

All-Pro Comparisons For White

White’s vision, running style and dual-threat ability might remind some of the league’s top runners. Herman Edwards, who was White’s coach at Arizona State, sees a resemblance to Allen, a player he played against in the NFL in the 1980s.

“Of course everyone has their opinion, and Coach Herm’s opinion is credible because of what he has done,” White said.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht seems some of White’s similarities to Bell, who played with Tampa Bay last year, from a style perspective.

“Well he hasn’t put on a uniform yet, or even practiced in the NFL yet, so I don’t want to compare him to Le’Veon,” Licht said. “But I see what you are saying there just in the style. He is very smooth. He’s more of a slasher and more of an outside runner. He can still run between the tackles, but he’s got great vision and great patience. He really sets up his blocks well and, once again, he’s very good in the passing game.”

White’s Dual-Threat Ability

Part of the Bell comparison is the fact that Bell was a complete back in the NFL, factoring in as a runner and a receiver. Bell, a second-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2013, has rushed for 6,554 yard and 42 touchdowns in his career. He’s also caught 399 passes for 3,289 yards (8.2 avg.) and nine more touchdowns. Bell has four seasons with 66 catches or more and three seasons with 600 yards receiving or more.

White had 234 carries for 1,420 yards (6.3 avg.) and 20 touchdowns in two years for the Sun Devils. But he also caught 51 passes for 607 yards (11.9 avg.) and two TDs, including 43 receptions for 456 yards (10.6 avg.) and one score last season. That’s nearly three receptions per game at Arizona State. And it’s White’s skill set in the passing game that really attracted the Bucs’ interest.

“Well, that was a big reason that we liked him and took him where we did,” Licht said. “He’s been very involved in that offense in the passing game. He’s got great hands – it’s very important to him to be involved in the offense and in the passing game. He has a lot of pride in that. There’s a lot of backs that are two-down backs. When you have a three-down back, you put him up a little higher on the board for us, especially in our offense. He’s got a chance to be a big asset for us in that regard.”

Bell had three seasons with 1,200 yards rushing or more in Pittsburgh before sitting out the 2018 season in a contract stalemate. Once he resurfaced with the New York Jets in 2019 at age 27, Bell was never the same. He’s been on four different teams since 2020, including a late-season stint with Tampa Bay at age 29. Bell rushed for 18 yards on eight carries and caught four passes for 31 yards and a touchdown during his time as a Buc.

White’s Path To Playing Time With The Bucs

Arizona State RB Rachaad White Bucs

Arizona State RB Rachaad White – Photo by: USA Today

Before White can even think about having a Bell-like career, he’s got to get on the field. The Bucs just signed Leonard Fournette to a three-year contract worth $7 million per season. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, a former third-round pick, is entering his third season with the Bucs and will be White’s main competition for the No. 2 running back role. Veteran Giovani Bernard, who turns 31 in November, was re-signed to help on third downs with his receiving ability.

In order for White to see the field as a runner and receiver, he needs to prove himself in the area of pass protection. At Arizona State, he was decent in pass protection, but certainly has room to improve. For White to share the same backfield with Tom Brady, he’ll have to be trusted to protect him.

“A lot of these backs – I would say most of them in college – you can pick them apart for their pass-protection skills. It’s kind of a lost art,” Licht said. “As long as they’re willing, as long as they’re smart, as long as they want to do it, you’ve got a chance to make them better and work on their weaknesses in that regard in this level. We saw that with him. We saw the passion. This guy is a really driven guy with a chip on his shoulder. When you have guys like that, you’ve got a chance.”

Can White Be Special?

Before he sees action on offense, White will have to earn a game day hat by playing on special teams as a rookie. That’s not something he did at Arizona State, but he’s willing to do in Tampa Bay.

“We talked about that a lot when we talked with him at the Combine and here. He is willing to roll up his sleeves and do whatever he can,” Licht said. “He walked around our building here – when we had him on a [draft prospect] visit – holding a football. I said, ‘Why do you hold that football?’ He said, ‘It’s just my comfort level. I just like to have a football with me.’ It’s like the movie, ‘The Program.’ He wants to do anything he can to help the team. That’s one of the things we loved about him.”

For White to come close to Bell’s level, he’ll have to earn playing time on game day via special teams first. Then, he’ll have to prove he can pass protect on offense. Once White has mastered those two tasks, we’ll see if the running and receiving production can truly resemble Bell – more than just the patient, upright running style.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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1 month ago

White reminds me of a RB from Airzona State who was drafted 58 years ago and went on to become a Hall of Famer. Charley Taylor was a RB at ASU and his first year as a pro and was then converted to solely WR, becoming one of the all time greats. I got to see him play in a preseason game in the Ole Sombrero back in the early ’70’s. Before Tampa got a team Tampa Stadium hosted preseason games for several years. I got to see some greats, Sonny Jurgensen, Charley Taylor and Joe Namath ending his career… Read more »

1 month ago

With the prevalence in college of the RPO offenses, running backs aren’t tasked to block very long if at all for the quarterbacks as is typical in the NFL. White has the physical size to be a good blocker, so it’s a matter of training and development, and also recognizing that his role as a blocker is every bit as important as his roles as a runner and receiver. We’ll see. I really don’t like player comparisons much because every player is his own man, nobody is a carbon copy of any other player, current or historical. Heck, players aren’t… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Naplesfan
1 month ago

I love this pick! White was one of my favorite RB’s coming out of this draft, if not my top choice. He has all the tools and progressed each year in college. I’m excited to see how he progresses in the NFL.

1 month ago

Way too much hype Scott; who really knows yet he will even get much running time at all, and be more of a 3rd down pass catcher/blocker? This is what I think Bucs want from him at this point in time time.

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
1 month ago

White has an upright running style so he closer to Forte.
Dickerson also had an upright running style but his ability to accelerate and his smoothness was unmatched.
Marcus Allen had the ability to take it to the house anytime he touched the ball but was also a tough nosed runner.

Last edited 1 month ago by Alldaway 2.0
1 month ago

If he transferred to the tide last year do you think he would have beaten out B Rob?? No chance, same with the Spiller at A&M.
He was over drafted

Last edited 1 month ago by destinjohnny