When you’re talking about pass-rushers in the 2023 NFL Draft, you can’t have the conversation without bringing up Georgia Tech’s Keion White.
Even in a deep class of edge rushers and defensive tackles, White has solidified himself as one of the top defensive talents in the draft. Seen as a potential first-round pick, his size, length, versatility and athleticism give him a high ceiling to work with at the next level.
Georgia Tech used him all over the defensive line, and for good reason: he’s powerful enough to thrive along the interior, and he’s athletic enough to rush the passer off the edge. With his long arms and his 6-foot-5, 285-pound frame, he has the ability to physically impose his will upon the opposition on any given play.
Leading up to the draft, White spoke with Windy City Gridiron about his versatility, his experience at the Combine, his financial aspirations outside of the NFL, and much more.
JI: You have that inside-outside versatility a lot of teams love. Do you have any preference what alignment you’re lined up at?
KW: It doesn’t really matter; I’m pretty flexible. Personally, what I like to do is line up at the [5-technique], and the 9 and the 7 when it’s first and second down: obvious run downs. [Then] 3, in the 2s, when it’s obvious passing downs.
JI: Can you talk a bit about how your approach changes as a 5-tech defensive end compared to where you’d be as like a 3-tech?
KW: That’s the beauty of my game, personally, because a lot of guys who are at those fives and nines and sevens on an operational edge, and [they] get pushed back inside, they try to win with speed. I can [use] power on the inside and power those guys, as well.
JI: How would you say your time at Old Dominion prepared you to make the jump to Georgia Tech?
KW: I loved my time at Old Dominion. I did four years there and ended up graduating from there. Playing tight end definitely helped me be a better defensive lineman, because just understanding how offenses work, blocking concepts and everything like that. I felt like I had really good coaches out there. They ended up getting fired, though. I feel like my defensive line coach really helped me develop as a player on the defensive line. I think my tight ends coach really helped me a lot develop and just as a person, and my mentality towards the game.
JI: Didn’t you overlap at Old Dominion with Oshane Ximines?
KW: Yeah, my first two years I was there. When I was playing tight end, I always had to block him [in practice] when he was there.
JI: That’s pretty cool you guys squared off.
KW: We used to go head-to-head every day. [I was a] freshman when he was coming, and he was having his big draft year. I used to get my ass kicked every day. That’s why I said, my old tight ends coach really helped me to evolve my mentality, because he didn’t care. He didn’t care. I was getting my ass kicked, he didn’t sympathize for me. He said, “hey, just get up and do it again, and do it for 1,000 times. The 1,001st time, you will win, but just keep going and be relentless”. I can carry that with me, even now.
JI: If you had to choose, what’s your favorite move to pull off as a pass-rusher?
KW: I’d go with a push-pull.
JI: What was it like to be a part of the Combine experience?
KW: The Combine was dope. You brought up Oshane before; I got to watch those guys when I was younger, like Oshane, and my roommate was Travis Fulgham, who plays in the league. Both of those guys went to the Senior Bowl, went to the Combine, and they were the first people drafted in Old Dominion history. Just seeing how big of a thing it was for them, it was surreal, being in that experience.
JI: Do you have any goals for what you’ll run at your Pro Day?
KW: Yes, I plan on doing my running [and doing] my drills at the Pro Day. I’m not a big goal setter; I try to do my best, and whatever happens, happens.
JI: I saw you’re interested in investing in real estate and other properties. Can you speak a bit to that interest and how it started?
KW: I got a degree in real estate and finance from Old Dominion. I would just always see millionaires and pretty wealthy people, and a lot of those people have a common theme: they all have money in real estate. So I try to make more money outside of football than I do in football, ultimately, and just to be comfortable, and have a stream of income coming in to where I can just go do what I want, when I want. I’m a very free-thinking, free spirit, and real estate and having that passive income is a great tool to use and utilize. That’s what got me initially thinking about it, but then once I started doing it — working with some people, internships, shadowing people — I really like took a lot of interest into it. Seeing a property from the ground up or really renovated and everything like that, and to see it rented out, and just seeing that process of creating something that you had influence on is really dope for me.
JI: Do you ever just go to Zillow and look at houses? That’s something I really like doing.
KW: Yeah, all the time. When I’m driving home, I’ll see a house, and I’ll look at the Zillow pricing, listing and everything, literally all the time.
JI: How else do you spend your free time outside of football?
KW: I do pretty much anything that I can that gets me out the house. Whether it be hiking or just being outside...today, I’m running around [and] probably going thrift shopping. I’m a big crafts guy, so anything I can do...Atlanta has like a lot of places that like allow you to do crafts, and they’ll teach you, and they have a lot of classes every day, so I do a lot of that. For me, just being outside and hiking and enjoying everything that the world has to offer, just trying to experience it is a big thing for me.
JI: What kind of crafts do you do?
KW: Recently, I went to a rug-making class, which is pretty cool, [and] candle-making. I just refinished a whole dresser like in my house. I got a dresser for like $50 on Facebook Marketplace and refinished that. I did a couple — you probably see it on TikTok and everything — painting, spray painting glass.
JI: Let’s say I’m an NFL general manager. What would I be getting if I drafted you to my team?
KW: For me, I think I use my age to my advantage. Being 24 is a bonus. I’m a little bit older than the normal draft pick, but I feel like that’s an advantage, because I just have a little bit more life experience and a little bit more maturity to me going into it. I see it for what it is, and I treat it as a business, which is what it is. The professionalism, and then the reassurance that I just have done all like the partying and everything in my life, and I’m just in a different phase of my life.