The New England Patriots have drafted many great players in the last decade, but no player has been more productive and durable than James White.
Let’s get this out in the open right away – we’re looking at the best Patriots player drafted in the 2010s not named Rob Gronkowski. If we included Gronkowski in this debate, obviously there wouldn’t be much of a debate to begin with.
Now that that’s out of the way…
The New England Patriots drafted James White in the fourth round of the NFL Draft back in 2014. At the time they couldn’t possibly have known just what he’d amount to as one of the most productive players on the team – and quite possibly even in the entire NFL.
The Wisconsin product has become a utility type of player for the Patriots since coming aboard in Foxborough. He can run the ball, catch the ball, and we even have seen him attempt a pass this season.
He’s done everything he’s been asked of and more for the Pats throughout his career, and was even named a team captain this season.
White is an exceptional receiver for Tom Brady out of the backfield and can even split out wide if need be as a receiver. Brady has targeted White 92 teams this season, which isn’t even a career high for him somehow.
Throughout his 78 games for the Pats since being drafted in 2014, White has totals of 320 receptions, 2,809 receiving yards, and 23 receiving touchdowns for his career.
White also has 274 rushes, 1,119 rushing yards, and eight rushing touchdowns, while averaging 4.1 yards per attempt for his career. He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for his skills as a runner, but White has proven to get the job done on the ground… and he always falls forward when going to the turf.
The argument could be made that James White is just as productive as Julian Edelman, who has been the known workhorse for the New England Patriots over the last handful of years. We need to consider though that Edelman has been in the NFL five more years than White, and their touchdown numbers only differ by five; Edelman has 36 career touchdowns to White’s 31.
Nobody will ever forget the turn of events created by James White during Super Bow LI against the Atlanta Falcons in 2017. Through the air he finished with 14 receptions (Super Bowl record), 110 yards, and one touchdown.
But on the ground in that same game, White carried the Patriots on his back and scored the game-winning touchdown to seal the victory for the Pats 34-28. White finished with 139 total yards and three total touchdowns (two rushing) in what was an MVP-level performance.
White is in great position to break Marshall Faulk’s receiving touchdown record for a running back (36), and he has already surpassed Kevin Faulk (15) for most receiving touchdowns for a running back in Patriots history.
Now a three-time Super Bowl Champion with the New England Patriots, White is by far the best player the Patriots have drafted in the last six years.
The New England Patriots got a steal when drafting James White. Moving forward, White is going to be one of the most important players on the offense for this aging Patriots team.
As he is in the middle of his most recent three-year contract extension, White is set to become an unrestricted free agent after 2020.
The argument could be made for Devin McCourty (2010), Dont’a Hightower (2012), Nate Solder (2011), Jamie Collins (2013), and Trey Flowers (2015) to all be considered as some of the great draft selections of the 2010s for the New England Patriots. But at least in my estimation, White edges them all out for that top honor (again, excluding Gronk).