Patriots Gameday: Keion White a throwback Bill Belichick defender

New England Patriots 2023 second-round pick Keion White has the talent and work ethic to be elite off the edge.
New England Patriots v Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots v Green Bay Packers / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

When the New England Patriots sport the old throwback red and white uniforms, it will be hard not to think of the great Andre Tippett.  On Sunday night against the Miami Dolphins there will be a player on the field who will remind fans of Tippett physically, and that is Keion White.

The second-round pick out of Georgia Tech will just be playing his second game in the NFL, but his talent and just the way he prepares for the game makes him that classic Bill Belichick defender at the edge or outside linebacker position.

Former New England Patriots defensive end impressed with Keion White

While Belichick never coached Tippett, he has coached players like Lawrence Taylor, Mike Vrabel and Rob Ninkovich who each excelled at that position in different ways, but still got to the quarterback.  White is showing that same type of instinct in just a small sample but is already showcasing a talent that has Ninovich impressed.

Appearing on Next Pats, the former Patriots defensive end/linebacker gushed over what he saw in White against Jalen Hurts and the Eagles.  The rookie played just 13 snaps, but his impact in the game was loud.

"He’s very talented,” Ninkovich said, as transcribed by NBC Sports Boston. “That’s a ton of talent…Just from watching those clips, I would say, ‘Dang, that kid’s got a ton of talent.’ You could just tell by his ability to play from a two-point (stance) on either side, left and right, some guys they’re not comfortable rushing from the left side or the right side. He was basically able to move two big men into the quarterback’s lap from both sides, hustle, speed to the football, (at) 6-5, 290 (pounds). That’s tons of talent right there."

Rob Ninkovich

First round pick Christian Gonzalez will get all the hype, but when the Patriots called White’s name during the 2023 NFL Draft, fans could just tell by the stoic look on his face that this kid means business and will fit a Belichick coached defense.  He has showed that throughout training camp and the preseason.  It translated into the regular season as he bulldozed his way through Eagles offensive lineman Lane Johnson into Hurts.

What was also impressive is his athleticism to keep a mobile quarterback like Hurts in the pocket.  Again, his pure strength and bullrush approach overpowers offensive lineman and leaves the quarterback with less space to escape.  There will be some rookie mistakes, which is part of the learning and growing process, but his work ethic and high-level of talent Ninkovich gushes over should propel White into an elite defender, especially with Belichick and Jerod Mayo as his coaches and mentors.

"Now I think the job for the Patriots is to develop the talent to being an elite level,” Ninkovich said. “As a young guy, he’s got the ability to be very elite. He could be a super-elite player…They’re deep up front, and they have guys who can move around. I’m sure Bill is licking his chops and (Jerod) Mayo and Steve (Belichick) are having a blast coming up with different game plans.”"

Rob Ninkovich

Against the Miami Dolphins this week, it will be interesting to see how the Patriots use Keion White and if he does see increased snaps.  Tua Tagovailoa is not as quick as Hurts, but he is a mobile quarterback who can escape the pocket and make plays.  With that said, the best way to limit offensive weapons like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle from getting the ball is force Tua into some quick throws that may lead to mistakes.

With Matthew Judon coming off the edge and Christian Barmore creating havoc in the middle, White is a defender who has a chance to come up with a couple big plays in this game and a ton of quarterback pressures, which will have him giving off a familiar look in those classic throwback uniforms.


Let’s get ready for the bull rush.

It’s game day.