Like with Christian Gonzalez in Round 1, the Patriots did two things with their lone pick (at the moment) in Round 2. They went with defense. Grabbed a guy who was projected to go much higher. And added a versatile athlete to the roster mix in need of versatility and athleticism.
And let there be no mistake that Georgia Tech edge defender Keion White was a guy they targeted. As NFL Network reported, it took the Pats War Room all of 60 seconds to confirm the pick. And NFLN's chief analyst Daniel Jeremiah quickly added that not only was White the best still-available prospect, but was his 15th highest ranked overall:
White is a twitched-up edge rusher with a defensive tackle frame. Against the pass, he has an explosive first step and can really bend at the top of his rush. He can convert speed to power and refuses to stay blocked. He never stops working to free himself and he can stack one move after another. He is a freaky athlete in coverage. On tape, you can see him peel off and mirror running backs 30 yards down the field. He also showed off his effort and motor by running more than 80 yards to look for a block on a Georgia Tech fumble return vs. Florida State. Against the run, he is violent with his hands to shock and shed blocks. He has a huge burst to close from the back side. Overall, White is one of my favorite players in the class and could emerge as the top defender in the class.
Personally, I didn't see edge as the biggest priority for the Patriots in this draft. But a priority nevertheless. As long as the prospect fit their required profile of size, versatility, and athleticism required to occupy that all important outside position in Bill Belichick's scheme. Good as say, a Melvin Ingram is, to fit into Belichick & Sons machinery takes a certain kind of prospect. And White is the component part the engine requires. Like I said a few weeks ago:
Keion White, Georgia Tech. 6-5, 285 lbs, 4.80
White started out at Old Dominion, playing tight end, which is the preferred position of superior all-around athletes who aren't sure quite who they are as they figure it out. Think of tight end as the Liberal Arts major of football. And he did find himself, obviously. He's got a lot of developing to do still, as you'd imagine from someone who lost so much time to learning how to block and run routes. But for now he gets by on his his size, strength, and explosive punch to get blockers on their back haunches and generate space to blow around them. He also has a tendency to play high and get moved off the point of attack. But there's a lot to work with for a team willing to give a rookie time to figure it out.
Compares to the Other Leading Brand: John Franklin-Myers
That's a lot of requirements of the position satisfied. White can understudy behind Matthew Judon, Josh Uche and Deatrich Wise Jr. as he gains the experience lost by the ankle injury that short-circuited his 2021 season. But that combo platter of size and versatile athleticism that impresses the draft experts so much doesn't fall into your lap at the 46th pick every year.
And a Patriots draft that already started out with 5-star reviews has already gotten 5-starrier.