The New England Patriots have a myriad of roster question marks to address this offseason, and no position is garnering more attention than quarterback, which they continue to search for after reportedly parting ways with Cam Newton at the end of the regular season.
Though free agency will get underway next month, fans are starting to question what the Patriots are planning to do in the draft.
Who they sign on the open market will likely dictate their approach to the annual event, but recent buzz in terms of players they’ve been scouting could shed some light on their future roster decisions.
In fact, a recent report could potentially signal the end of James White’s tenure in New England.
The Pats have apparently met virtually with Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson, who’s been soaring up draft boards over the last few weeks.
White has been incredible for the Patriots, and the fan base would obviously hate to see him leave. However, given his similar build and skill set to that of Jefferson, his future is definitely worth pondering with the draft just two months away. White is a free agent at the start of the new league year.
The Patriots are showing an interest in RB prospect Jermar Jefferson.
Considering how many draft outlets that exist these days, it’s extremely difficult to pin down exactly where a prospect who isn’t a surefire top pick will end up getting selected. However, the consensus understanding among scouts and analysts is that Jefferson could fall anywhere between the third and sixth rounds.
It would be admittedly strange to see the Patriots draft another running back considering that they have Damien Harris, Sony Michel, Brandon Bolden and 2020 undrafted talent JJ Taylor on the books for next season, but there are burning questions about whether any of them could assume White’s role as one of the best pass-catching backs in the league.
If you take one look at Jefferson’s highlight compilation over his Oregon State career, you’ll come to terms with why he’s accumulating so much hype among NFL teams. For somebody who measures in at 5-foot-9 and 217 pounds, he has an incredible knack for bouncing off tackles. As for the speed and vision, well, that’s pretty much required for any prospect entering the draft.
The clip shows that Jefferson plays bigger than his size, and his determination when it comes to finishing off runs, even if it only means gaining a few extra inches, has to resonate highly with the Patriots’s draft representatives.
In a shortened season (six games), the 20-year-old rushed for 856 yards and seven touchdowns on a ridiculous 6.5 yards per carry. Despite not having a full slate of games to stake his claim, he still earned first-team All-Pac 12 honors for his performance.
While he was hardly utilized in Oregon State’s passing game, don’t forget that White didn’t contribute in that role at Wisconsin until his senior year. It’s possible the Patriots could be looking at Jefferson and thinking his build, speed and elusiveness could help him be more of a hybrid back to help with the change of pace alongside Damien Harris and Sony Michel.
We despise picturing a world in which White isn’t catching passes out of the Patriots’ backfield, but if they rate Jefferson as highly as we think they do, the smart financial decision would be to let the veteran walk in free agency and bring in a young stud on a rookie salary with room to grow.
This is obviously nowhere near set in stone or close to guaranteed, but it’s definitely something to monitor as we creep closer to the draft.