LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Standing before the Chicago crowd at the NFL Draft, Kevin White couldn’t hide his smile.
The West Virginia receiver was drafted by Chicago with the seventh overall pick in Thursday night’s first round, and the Bears fans in attendance rained down cheers for their favorite team’s selection.
“It’s great,” White said of Chicago. “I love it. It’s second to none.”
In his first NFL Draft as a general manager, Ryan Pace admitted that everything went as planned for the Bears’ selection. When White came up to the board, there was high-fiving and fist-pumping.
Pace managed to match the excitement of White when addressing reporters.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled right now,” he said.
White, 22, is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound wideout who was clocked at 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. In 2014, White was a first-team All-American by several outlets, a second-team All-American by the Associated Press and a finalist or the Biletnekoff Award, given to college football’s top receiver.
In Chicago, White will pair up with Alshon Jeffery as an outside receiver, while the newly added Eddie Royal will work in the slot. So what can be expected of White with the Bears?
“This guy, first of all, after the catch is dynamic,” Pace said. “He’s got great hands, he’s strong, he’s big, he can run. He checks all the boxes. I don’t want expectations on him right now, but we’re thrilled about this and how (offensive coordinator) Adam Gase will integrate him into the offense. There are a lot of creative things we can do with him. I’m excited.”
Added White: “I want to work, earn my stripes and help the team win.”
Receiver was added to the Bears’ many needs after Chicago traded away Brandon Marshall in March. With White, Pace has replaced Marshall with an impact player.
Reports prior to the first pick on Thursday evening suggested the Bears were in conversations with the Tennessee Titans to move up and select quarterback Marcus Mariota with the second pick. Pace downplayed those talks while standing by his commitment to Jay Cutler.
“In my mind, we just got Jay another dynamic weapon,” Pace said. “That’s what I’m excited about. I hope right now, he’s fired up, because we just gave him another powerful weapon. With this receiving core, this only adds to Jay’s ability to distribute the ball.”
Before transferring to West Virginia, White played two years of junior college football at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa. He was seen as a diamond in the rough entering the Mountaineers’ program, with his stock flying up after a stellar 2014 season.
In 2014 with West Virginia, White posted 109 receptions for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Every time I’ve gotten an opportunity, I’ve made the most of it,” White said.
The next opportunity for White comes in Chicago, the site of his draft selection and home of his new team, the Bears. He will be introduced on Friday at Halas Hall.
Until then, White can keep smiling in his new home of Chicago.
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.