As the second round of the 2023 NFL draft continued to move, the New England Patriots stayed home.
The war room in Foxborough did so to select Georgia Tech defensive lineman Keion White at No. 46 overall.
White would become the fourth edge prospect to leave the board around the league on Friday night, following Auburn’s Derick Hall, Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey and LSU’s BJ Ojulari. He also would become the first Yellow Jackets product to be taken by head coach Bill Belichick’s Patriots since guard Shaq Mason back in 2015.
Here’s an initial look into why.
A sixth-year Senior Bowler with room to grow inside and out
A 2017 recruit who set out as a tight end at Old Dominion, White redshirted as a true freshman before tallying 124 receiving yards the following fall. He then made his way to the other side of the ball for the Monarchs. A total of 62 tackles — including 19 for loss to tie a program record — with one forced fumble, one interception and one blocked field goal were the result. As was a second-team All-Conference USA pick.
When the pandemic canceled the 2020 season, White entered the transfer portal with two years of eligibility remaining. An ankle injury sidelined him for eight games from there at Georgia Tech. But he returned to start all 12 appearances in his final campaign, leading the team with 14 tackles for loss as well as 7.5 sacks.
The third-team All-ACC honoree did so while seeing 449 snaps outside the tackle, 96 snaps over the tackle and 39 snaps in the B-gap, according to Pro Football Focus. He earned an invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
A strong, long power player at 6-foot-5, 285 pounds
White did not run at the NFL Scouting Combine yet benched 30 reps at 225 pounds with 34-inch arms. He also put up a vertical jump of 34 inches to go with a 9-foot-9 broad jump while in Indianapolis. And at 6-foot-5, 285 pounds.
Later clocking the 40-yard dash at the Georgia Tech pro day, a time of 4.79 seconds was recorded with a 10-yard split of 1.69 seconds.
That testing profile reflects what New England looks for at the line of scrimmage: size, length, strength and explosiveness in close quarters. White’s relative athletic score checks in at 9.92 out of 10, per Kent Lee Platte of RAS.football, when cast among defensive tackles.
A rotational view for New England’s front
While White turned 24 in January, the depth chart is subject to shift for the Patriots in 2024.
Perennial Pro Bowl outside linebacker Matthew Judon enters the final year of his contract with New England on the heels of a 15.5-sack season. The same is true for the rookie pact of former Michigan second-round pick Josh Uche, who bent around offensive bookends for a career-best 11.5 sacks last campaign.
A rotational role projects to be ahead for White. But there is position flexibility to work with. Setting an edge and kicking down on passing downs could be where it gets underway from one technique to another.