New England Patriots: Keion White, can he be like his namesake?

White's play is reminiscent of the great Reggie White.
Aug 2, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Keion White (51) heads to the
Aug 2, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Keion White (51) heads to the / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have been taken to task in this space for past draft gaffes. Top picks were squandered by their often bizarre draft strategies. While draft misses are an NFL staple, the Patriots, for too many years, have blown many premium picks, aka first-to-third-round picks, on players who couldn't play.

Many of these errant picks were due to the propensity of the team to reach for a player, i.e., draft a player far higher than the NFL consensus would. It's not a major indiscretion on occasion. Make it an ofttimes practice through, and it crushes playoff hopes. There were two glaring examples of this in 2022.

First, after an astute trade-down, the Patriots reverted to form and drafted Cole Strange, a projected third-round consensus guard in the first round. He was just OK in 2022. In addition, the team reached way up for rail-thin wide receiver Tyquan Thornton. He was more of a fourth-round value. Thornton has flopped thus far, and the 2023 camp reports aren't encouraging.

Conversely, the New England Patriots' top two picks in 2023 were consensus types. First-rounder, Christian Gonzalez was a consensus top-of-the-first-round pick. Second-rounder, Keion White was drafted about where he should have been. White is the subject of this discussion.

New England Patriots' Keion White explodes onto the scene

In his first pre-season game, Keion White showed why New England selected him with the 46th pick in the 2023 draft. He was projected as a big, strong hybrid player with solid versatility. Like his namesake, the late Hall of Fame great Reggie White, one of the best defensive linemen to ever play a snap, his game is power and explosion. Can Keion even approach this level of excellence?

The easy answer is probably not; who can? But ... like Reggie, Keion is a physical specimen at 6'5' tall and about 285 pounds which will almost certainly rise to 300 or so with NFL conditioning, He showed against Houston in his first NFL game he's a force to be reckoned with. notes of his performance,

"White, selected in the second round (46th overall) in this year's NFL Draft, was a bright spot in New England's 20-9 preseason opener loss to the Houston Texans. The Georgia Tech product wreaked havoc on the Texans' offensive line throughout the first half with a quarterback hit, three tackles, and this big hit on running back Dare Ogunbowale to help the Patriots recover the fumble:"

White was more like a supernova unleashing power and penetrating ability into the Texan's backfield. Want a debut to be attention-grabbing? Then White (along with teammate and fellow rookie Malik Cunningham) delivered it decisively.

What does all this presage for the Patriots' defense that is already its strong point? Can it get even better with the addition of Keion White? The supposition here is based on an emphatic "Yes." White looks like the real deal.

Addition of Keion White makes the New England Patriots defense terrifying

Let's look at what Keion White brings to the New England Patriots' formidable arsenal of pass-rushing edge talents. He augments a phalanx of weapons that few NFL teams can match. Some may have a truly dominant player like Joey Bosa, but the New England Patriots have a bevy of top players. Few teams can roll out the vast array of punishers the Patriots now can with the addition of White.

On the edge, the Pats have a tandem of the top NFL linebackers; Matt Judon, with 28 sacks over two seasons in Foxborough, is in his prime. New to the party is Josh Uche. Undervalued here, he exploded onto the scene in 2022 with 11.5 sacks to complement Judon's 15.5. Few teams have a tandem like this.

Additionally, the Pats can roll out Dietrich Wise Jr., a stout defensive end who had 7.5 sacks last season. Defensive tackle Christian Barmore is a crushing force in the middle. He's unblockable by two or even three O-linemen at times. Here is where things get interesting.

White can play anywhere on the defensive line and can even stand up on the edge. He can slide inside in third-down situations in a nightmare scenario. With Barmore on the nose and White putting pressure from a gap, the prospectus for opposing interior offensive linemen is grim. In addition, this pressure affords edge stars Judon and Uche to mop up the remnants of any offense's activities.

Keion White and Christian Barmore may never equal the all-time great Eagles tandem of Reggie White and Jerome Brown. Nevertheless, expect them to dominate opposing offensive lines and just possibly help take the New England Patriots into the playoffs in 2023. Things are looking up on defense.