New England Patriots: James White Is More Than A Third Down Specialist


Last year in the NFL draft, the New England Patriots selected James White out of Wisconsin in the fourth round. White was one of the most prolific running backs in Wisconsin history; finishing fourth in total yards (4015), third in touchdowns (45), first in yards per carry (6.2), first in receiving yards (670), and all while splitting carries with other Wisconsin greats over his career Ryan Clay, Montee Ball, and Melvin Gordon. He was also praised for his solid pass protection and ball security. Both traits are highly valued by Bill Belichick and could work in his favor. White is a hidden gem at the runningback position who needs nothing but an opportunity to shine.

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His first season was spent as a redshirt year much like Steven Ridley before he went for 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns in his sophomore season. Granted White has some stiff competition this year for reps but, I’m sure when the pads come on he will have no problem separating himself. A role as a third-down specialist may be what gets him on the field for the most part during camp but, as he gets more carries his elusiveness from Wisconsin will stand out. All White need is a little more muscle on his frame to be successful. He came in at 205 pounds as a rookie, so if he managed to add 10 pounds in good weight over the last year. Then possibly two to five more during this offseason he could be at the proper weight for an every down back.

Legarrette Blount has earned the starting role thus far, and barring any significant injury he will remain at the top of the depth chart. His one game suspension could benefit White because with Blount out Belichick will look to others to produce. If White can take advantage of his running reps in practice, secure the third down role as well, and produce on the season-opener, I can see White being Blount’s running mate for the rest of the season. I’m not big on Jonas Gray at all. Brandon Bolden brings more value as a power back and special teams player anyway. Preferably I hope Gray and Travaris Cadet don’t make the final roster. A committee of Blount, White, and Bolden would be a well-oiled machine behind Tom Brady and Jimmy Garappolo.