New England Patriots: Is James White underappreciated?


The New England Patriots have an amazing player in James White. He has made a major impact during his six seasons as a pro – but is he underappreciated?

It’s crazy to think that James White is already in his sixth season in the NFL with the New England Patriots, but he is. Drafted in the fourth round out of Wisconsin, White could very well be the best running back of the 2014 draft class.

At 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds, White is considered an undersized player. While at Wisconsin, he rushed for over 4,000 yards and totaled 45 rushing touchdowns… but still, guys like Bishop Sankey, Jeremy Hill, Carlos Hyde, and Devonta Freeman were all selected well before White. 12 different running backs were drafted before White; only three of them still play in the NFL, and only two still play running back (Hyde and Freeman).

The New England Patriots have always found value in running backs that have been on the smaller side of the height chart. Smaller running backs have proven to be excellent receivers in the passing game, which is something the Pats thrive with.

White has excelled in the Patriots offense – particularly in the passing game. Just like Kevin Faulk, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, and Dion Lewis, White has proven to be very successful, durable, and reliable throughout his career so far with the Patriots.

For his career-to-date stats, White has 980 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns, along with 296 receptions for 2,584 receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns. White has the most receiving touchdowns for a running back in Patriots history; surpassing Kevin Faulk (15).

At first, it was a bit surprising to see how good of a receiver White was with the Patriots. While at Wisconsin, White totaled just three touchdowns on 73 receptions during his entire four-year college career. The Wisconsin offense used their backs heavily and primarily as runners, and if involved in the passing game, it was primarily on screen plays.

The Wisconsin backfield was stacked from 2010-2014, as James White shared touches with both Montee Ball and Melvin Gordon. White would even receive handoffs from Russell Wilson for the 2011 season during Wilson’s transfer from NC State.

To earn the trust of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, you need to simply just “do your job” and do it well. Impressively enough, White has never fumbled the football in his regular season NFL career, and he has the full trust and confidence of Brady and Belichick.

During Super Bowl LI, the New England Patriots came back from a 28-3 deficit to win in overtime 34-28 over the Atlanta Falcons. James White led the Patriots to victory in an MVP type of fashion, but Brady would go on to win the award. Notably, Brady wanted to five White a pick-up truck he thought came with his MVP award (like the one he gave Malcolm Butler two years earlier), acknowledging that White probably deserved to be the award recipient in Super Bowl LI just as Butler arguably had a case for MVP in Super Bowl XLIX.

White’s three touchdowns (and two-point conversion) set a Super Bowl record for most points scored in a single game (20). White caught 14 passes (also a Super Bowl record) for 110 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for 29 yards and scoring two touchdowns, one of which was the game-winner in overtime.

White can run, catch, and pass-block; he’s the full package for an NFL running back. Now a three-time Super Bowl champion, James White has to be looked at as one of the best players of the 2014 NFL Draft class. He has grown into being the perfect New England Patriot, and yet he’s still not nearly as appreciated as he should be.