Why James White sees Alabama's Jahmyr Gibbs as a strong Patriots fit


The New England Patriots could use another James White.

While Rhamondre Stevenson excelled in a pass-catching role last season with a team-high 69 receptions for 421 yards, he also doubled as the Patriots' bell-cow running back, taking on a heavy workload that may not be sustainable in 2023.

Considering neither Pierre Strong Jr. or Kevin Harris distinguished themselves as rookies last season, New England perhaps could benefit from selecting a pass-catching back in the 2023 NFL Draft -- a player similar to White, who amassed 381 receptions as the Patriots' go-to third-down back over the better part of eight seasons before retiring in August 2022.

White joined our Phil Perry on a new episode of the Next Pats Podcast and shared the name of a running back who could be a fit for the Patriots: Alabama's Jahmyr Gibbs.

Next Pats Podcast: What the Patriots are looking for in running backs with James White | Listen & Follow | Watch on YouTube

"He's a little bit more of a pass-catcher," White said of Gibbs. "He seems like he's already got that one step into the league, being coached under Bill O'Brien and running an NFL-type offense."

In addition to working with O'Brien -- then Alabama's offensive coordinator; now in the same role with New England -- in 2022, Gibbs also has the benefit of blazing speed, having run a blistering 4.36-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"He has a thing that sets him apart: He's fast," White added. "Typically when you think about those fast guys, they're not really elusive, but he is, and he's light on his feet, he has good balance."

Gibbs is projected as a late first-round or second-round pick and might be a reach at No. 14 for New England. But White says not to overlook the O'Brien connection.

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"Now that Bill O'Brien's there (with the Patriots), he coached him at Alabama," White said. "Obviously we're at pick 14; I don't know if he goes in the first round. I don't know if they pick him that high.

"But if they trade back and a guy like Bijan Robinson goes before him, and everybody's kind of slotted (Gibbs) to be their second guy off the board -- I could see that happening, just based on the connection. Familiarity is very key for sure when it comes to offensive coordinators."

To hear more from White on the traits that make a successful "sub back" in New England -- he highlights intelligence, toughness and versatility -- subscribe to the Next Pats Podcast or watch on YouTube below.

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