In a roster move that seemed inevitable, the Redskins released long snapper Andrew East on Friday, filling his roster spot with a young defensive back, D.J. White, who last played a regular season game for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017.
At 5’11” and 193 pounds, the 25-year-old D.J. White entered the NFL as a 6th round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016, after playing his college ball at Georgia Tech.
He was active for 11 games in his rookie year, accounting for 11 tackles, 3 passes defended and an interception. In the two subsequent seasons (‘17 and ‘18) he has been active for only two games, adding 3 tackles as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. (Is it just me, or does there seem to be a strong Colts connection among a lot of the recent training camp signings?)
Here’s a look at his Combine stats:
I checked the Fansided website to see why White was waived late in the 2017 season. What I found indicates that the Chiefs fans at the time thought that the team was hoping to keep D.J. under contract in Kansas City, and that Indianapolis stung them by picking him up off of waivers:
The Kansas CIty Chiefs had to make room. With Tamba Hali officially ready to join the team and contribute in-game after missing the first half of the season on the Physically Unable to Play list, the Chiefs had to place someone on waivers, even if they secretly hoped they could keep that player on the practice squad. Unfortunately, they lost a young defensive back in the process after the Indianapolis Colts claimed cornerback D.J. White.
White was the Chiefs sixth round pick back in the 2016 NFL Draft and he was able to earn decent playing time during his rookie season. He played in 11 total games, mostly on special teams, but he also entered the game in dime packages where multiple defensive backs were needed. He had a single interception and 3 passes defended along with 11 tackles on the season. It was a nice start for a low-round pick and showed the Chiefs know how to find value for their specific schemes late in the draft.
This year, White was unable to find the field, but the Chiefs simply had too many players over him on the depth chart. White was able to play last year while Phillip Gaines was out, but this year he has been healthy. The emergence of Terrance Mitchell late in 2016 also pushed White a bit further down the ranks. Ultimately this year, despite the need for solid cornerback play, White never was able to break through and was often inactive on game day.
Former Chiefs general manager Chris Ballard is the team’s general manager, so he would be very familiar with White’s college tape and first year play. The Colts have focused on remaking their entire secondary in Ballard’s first year as GM, including drafting Malik Hooker and Quincy Wilson, so it’s not surprising to see Ballard take interest in White.
White might be able to make his presence felt on a different team, a needier team, at this point, but then again, he’s bound for some further uncertainty in the future as Indy faces a hot seat under a head coach in Chuck Pagano. Any new coach will undoubtedly bring in new schemes and needs. For now, White hopes the final several weeks of the season gives him a chance to showcase what he can do.
Despite the good feelings that the Chiefs fans had for White, he apparently never really got any traction with the Colts, appearing in just 2 games in 2017 after being picked up on waivers in early November. Following training camp with Indianapolis, he was initially signed to the Colts practice squad at the beginning of 2018, but was released before the start of the regular season, and was out of football for the remainder of last year.
Here in Washington, White adds some depth to a fairly young and well-rounded cornerback group largely comprised of recent Redskins draft picks and undrafted free agents.
Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau appear to be absolute roster locks for the ‘19 season.
After that, recent draft picks Greg Stroman and Jimmy Moreland seem to be on the inside track for rosters spots, leaving perhaps one roster spot to be filled from the remaining players: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Adonis Alexander, Danny Johnson, Deion Harris, Ashton Lampkin — and now, D.J. White.
With six players competing for what looks like one roster spot, D.J. White looks like a long shot for a roster spot; likely, the best he can hope for is a practice squad spot or to put some good plays on tape during the pre-season games in hopes of attracting the attention of a DB-needy team.
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The Redskins invested a 6th round pick in Alexander, Johnson was on the roster in 2018, and Deion Harris has been with the team throughout OTAs, mini-camp and training camp. White has a long way to go to establish himself, and not many days in which to do so.