New England Patriots

Why James White views WR Ja'Lynn Polk as great pick for Patriots

"I think [Polk] fits right in with this receiver group."

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After trading down from the No. 34 pick to the No. 37 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots gave Drake Maye a new weapon by selecting Washington wide receiver Ja'Lynn Polk. During NBC Sports Boston's On The Clock Draft Special on Friday, former New England running back James White joined Phil Perry, Tom Curran, and Albert Breer to discuss the newest Patriots wideout.

"I think he's a good football player," White said, as seen in the video above. "Watching him at Washington, he makes plays, runs good routes, and makes the contested catches."

Some Patriots fans voiced frustration on social media after the Los Angeles Chargers selected Georgia receiver Ladd McConkey with New England's No. 34 pick and after the Patriots passed on Texas receiver Adonai Mitchell, but the Washington product offers something the others don't -- elite versatility.

"I think [Polk] fits right in with this receiver group," White added. "He may not be a number one guy that really dictates coverage, but they have a lot of talented players -- and that's what we had a lot of the time when I was playing, we had some very interchangeable receivers from Julian [Edelman] to Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan."

Even if Polk doesn't emerge as a true WR1, the Patriots can count on the 6-foot-2, 204-pound receiver to make tough catches and play in a variety of different receiving roles. And while Polk won't blow by defenders -- he ran a 4.52-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine -- his above-average strength and physicality, paired with his competitiveness and desire to win, often leads to more yards after the catch.

Highlights from the Patriots 37th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, WR Ja'Lynn Polk out of Washington.

Polk's top trait, however, remains his hands, with some draft analysts going as far as saying he may have the most skilled hands among all prospects. The Washington product has a knack for always coming down with the ball no matter the coverage, which should give Patriots fans some relief that his is likely not N'Keal Harry 2.0.

"[Rob] Gronkowski was the main target [when I played], but each and every one of our receivers in the room really took turns making plays," White said, comparing the current Patriots receiving corps to the one he played with from 2014 to 2021. "Maybe that's what the Patriots are trying to [recreate] moving forward."

Polk's ability to play outside and in the slot adds versatility to the current corps of Kendrick Bourne, DeMario Douglas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and K.J. Osborn.

Playing behind 2024 first round pick Rome Odunze last season, Polk still made an impact by posting 1,159 yards on 69 receptions with nine touchdown catches. Washington also experimented with Polk in the running game, rushing four times for 32 yards with a touchdown.

Following the selection, support poured in across social media for Polk from players and analysts across the league excited for the receiver's potential.

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