The New England Patriots used their 130th selection in the 2014 draft yesterday to select running back James White, out of Wisconsin. Here is my grade of this pick.
Other than their first round selection of Dominique Easley, this pick was the one I liked the most in this year’s draft. Not only is White a talented guy, but his production was off the charts in college. In four years at Wisconsin, White amassed 4,685 total yards, 48 total touchdowns, and in 754 touches of the football, White fumbled twice. That is just incredible. Bill Belichick loves that kind of reliability, which I am sure is one of the reasons he decided to take him in the fourth round.
Now, White was not brought in to be a starter, and to be honest, he isn’t cut out to be a starter in this league. He doesn’t have awesome speed, and he is a bit small for an every down back. However that doesn’t mean I don’t think he can be productive with New England. Stevan Ridley is firmly entrenched as the starter, and Shane Vereen will handle the third down duties. But White should find himself with a nice role as the third back among the group, which will provide him with plenty of opportunities to shine with the Pats.
Here is how CBS Sports broke down his strengths as a player:
Compactly built with some deceiving body strength – good north-south momentum…low pad level and runs close to the ground with a fluid body type…nice cutback and burst to make defenders miss with quick feet to sidestep defenders and flip on the jets…stiff ankles but has some body wiggle to avoid tackles…good vision and patience at the LOS to read blocks, spurt through holes and get to the second level…knack for the big play with several productive runs on his resume…soft hands out of the backfield and very reliable as a pass-catcher.
High effort blocker and works hard to get in position, using proper technique…NFL bloodlines – relative of wide receivers Santana and Sinorice Moss…selfless player with high football character – waited his turn to be the starter in Madison…very productive career, finishing fourth in school history in rushing yards (4,015), third in rushing scores (45), first in yards per carry average (6.2) and first in receiving yards for a RB (670).
This pick may not instantly put the Patriots over the top, but it was one of the best selections of the draft, and I guarantee Pats fans will be happy with White over the course of the next few seasons.
Overall Grade: A