New England Patriots NFL Draft Analysis for 2014 season and 2015 and Beyond

5 of 10

Nov 30, 2013; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back James White (20) runs the ball against Penn State Nittany Lions safety Von Walker at Camp Randall Stadium. Penn State defeated Wisconsin 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Round: 4, Pick: 30 (Overall: 130) James White, RB, Wisconsin:


James White is a sure-handed running back–always an important consideration for a Bill Belichick coached team–who was a four down player at Wisconsin. Potentially able to grind out yards between the tackles on first and second down and contribute as a receiver out of the backfield on passing downs, White also could contribute on special teams as a kickoff returner.

2014 Role:

Expect White to earn his role on the roster this summer on special teams as the team looks to upgrade a kick returner role which was among the worst in the NFL in 2013.  White should kickstart that unit immediately while providing insurance for the annual Shane Vereen injury.  After the abject failure that running back Brandon Bolden was in that role last season (due to the injury and ineffectiveness of veteran free agent Leon Washington), White should be a substantial upgrade.

2015 and Beyond:

White fits the bill at where he was selected in the draft as a running back capable of filling in at multiple roles while also adding depth to the roster with 2015 in mind. With the Patriots’ top three backs all scheduled for free agency after the 2014 season the pick of White fills a need for the future in New England.

Whether White is ever a lead back in New England remains to be seen, but considering how New England prefers a running back committee with multiple players utilizing their best skillsets, White should be able to carve out a substantial role in the Patriots running back grouping going forward. With his strength, excellent hands and receiving skills, and bowling ball running style White’s unique running style with juking and hesitation and low center of gravity give the Patriots a unique running back for the future.

Similar pick in the past: Stevan Ridley, RB #73 overall – 2011

Like the pick of Ridley in 2011, little is expected of White in year one.  As Ridley had BenJarvus Green-Ellis ahead of him in his final year of his contract, so too does White have Ridley ahead of him in the same situation. Any production on offense from White this year is a bonus as Ridley’s late season production in 2011 turned out to be.