With Shane Vereen due for free agency, the Patriots drafted Wisconsin RB James White in the 4th round (130th overall). Now that Vereen has signed with the New York Giants, the role is now wide open. The Patriots have had very good options in the Belichick Era with Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, and Shane Vereen. As is the secondary motto (after "Do Your Job") in New England, "Next Man Up". For the receiving RB role, the Patriots have James White, Travaris Cadet, and Dion Lewis on the roster as potential options to step up.
Contestants: James White, Travaris Cadet, Dion Lewis
Projected Winner: James White
Given how important the receiving back role is, I believe continuity in the offense is important. While White is smaller (Faulk, Woodhead, and Vereen were no taller than 5'9") than the other two options, given that Brady prefers to throw low rather than high, White is a better fit. Cadet and Lewis are in their first year in the system while White is in his second. White will get first crack at winning the job because of it, and that could just be enough for him to win it. From what I've read in off-season reports and what I saw in the Kansas City game, White is an effective receiver out of the backfield and can turn on the Jets on the outside. White has never been a big H-W-S guy, but watching Wisconsin from 2011-2013 White was the guy who made the big play runs to knock down their opponents. With Blount, Gaffney, and Gray on the roster White won't likely get many carries inside the tackles. That's actually good for him because he's not going to gain much traction from there. In coverage, White will get match-ups against linebackers because Gronkowski and Edelman will attract all the defensive backs.
Travaris Cadet is a darkhorse to win the job because he has experience in that role for the Saints. I believe he will also get a roster spot because he can contribute on special teams as a returner (if not a returner, a 4-unit core guy). Cadet is larger than White at 6'1" 210 vs. White's 5'9" 200. The Patriots have carried two RBs who can catch and pass protect ever since the decision not to led to the premature end of the 2008 season. It's very possible that injuries strike the position and White goes down, which means Cadet should be ready to step up in case. Even with the loss of Vereen to free agency, I believe that the offense will continue to get production from the receiving RB spot because Belichick gets the best out of his players.