Wisconsin Badgers running back James White was selected in Round 4, 130 overall by the New England Patriots.
James White's 670 career receiving yards are the most among running backs in Wisconsin history.
Jesse Johnson / USA TODAY Sports
By Jesse Temple
The New England Patriots needed a complementary running back to add to their offense, and they found one with former Wisconsin tailback James White on Saturday afternoon.
The Patriots drafted White with the 130th pick in the fourth round of the NFL Draft to fill the void left behind by LeGarrette Blount, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in March.
White is not considered to be an every-down back, but he does possess plenty of skills to make him an appealing pick.
While at Wisconsin, White rushed for 4,015 yards with 45 touchdowns, and he became a vital part of the Badgers' pass protection and pass catching out of the backfield. In his senior season, White tied for second on the team by catching 39 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns. All the other running backs combined caught just two passes for 19 yards. White's 670 career receiving yards are the most among running backs in Wisconsin history.
Throw in the fact White has experience on special teams handling kickoffs -- 40 for 765 yards -- and White believes his versatility can help him be a valuable asset to an NFL franchise. He ranked fourth in program history in all-purpose yards with 5,450.
"I did all different things on special teams, so it definitely will be helpful to do that," White told FOXSportsWisconsin.com last week. "I'm just trying to find a way on the field on offense, as well.
"Last year helped just being a better overall player, being a vital option in the passing game. I'm very confident in my hands. We didn't do as much passing to the running backs in previous years. But this year, (offensive coordinator Andy) Ludwig, he had all of us running backs in the passing game. So I was going to make the most of the opportunity and show that I could make plays in space."
Analysts' opinions of White were mixed.
"When you watch him on tape at Wisconsin, you're not wowed by any one thing," NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. "He's just kind of a guy who has good vision, good balance. Not going to wow you with speed, not going to wow you with power. Just a very efficient, effective running back. I think he's someone who is going to have to be in a stable. I don't think he's ever going to be the lead guy."
ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said White was "not great in any one area physically," but noted White's improvement in pass catching out of the backfield speaks to his versatility.
"He became more of a complete back this past season," Kiper Jr. said. "That's going to have to be his role. He also has some return ability. This is a kid that runs about a 4.57. Strong in the upper body. Decent athlete. But he improved his versatility. That's where his role will have to be, in the return game and on third down opportunities."
Other former Wisconsin players taken on Day 3 of the NFL Draft:
Abbrederis fulfilled a lifelong dream when his hometown team selected him. He became the first Badgers player drafted in the Ted Thompson era.
Abbrederis finished his career tied for the school record for receptions (202) and ranked second all-time in receiving yards (3,140) and touchdown catches (23). He also set the school record for kickoff return average (25.8) and ranked fifth in program history for punt return average (10.7).
He showcased himself on a national stage when Wisconsin played at Ohio State in September. During that game, Abbrederis caught 10 passes for 207 yards with a touchdown while primarily being defended by cornerback Bradley Roby -- taken No. 31 overall in the first round Thursday night by the Denver Broncos.
As a senior last season, Abbrederis caught 78 passes for 1,081 yards with seven touchdowns.
Allen, a 6-foot-3, 325-pound nose guard, became the fifth Badgers player taken in the draft and fell to a team with which he could thrive. Allen has experience in a 3-4 and a 4-3 defensive scheme, but his skill set is best suited as a true nose guard.
"Nose tackle in that scheme is what he is," Kiper Jr. said. "Kid has the size. Kid obviously held up well. Played both defensive tackle and nose tackle. Played in more games than any Wisconsin Badger, 54, so another scheme fit late in the draft for the Philadelphia Eagles."
Allen tied a school record by appearing in 54 games and made 26 starts. He tallied 94 career tackles with 15 tackles for a loss and eight sacks.