The mandatory phase of the New England Patriots' offseason workouts is over – at least until training camp starts in late July – and we have re-entered the quieter parts of the NFL calendar.
However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop. After all, by late August, each team has to start making its roster cuts. Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we'll analyze rookie linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill.
Name: Kamu Grugier-Hill
Jersey number: 48b
Size: 6'2, 220 lbs.
2015 review: In 2015 – for the second straight year – Grugier-Hill was named first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference; thus adequately capping a successful career at Eastern Illinois. Overall, he played 11 games during his senior season and finished among the team-leaders in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks and fumble recoveries.
Despite missing two games due to injury, Grugier-Hill registered 70 tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss. He added 6.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and an interception. Furthermore, he played not only on defense but on special teams as well, displaying his explosiveness and athleticism in the process.
As a result, the Patriots invested a sixth round draft selection (pick 208) in Grugier-Hill.
2016 preview: Grugier-Hill has the height and atheticism to be used as a linebacker/strong safety hybrid at the next level – similar to the role Tavon Wilson was intended to play during his time in Foxboro. The 22-year old still needs to work on his size and the intricacies of the two defensive roles, though, and might therefore start his career exclusively on special teams.
Consequently, Grugier-Hill would have to beat out other linebackers and safeties whose roster lives might depend on their special teams prowess; among them are linebackers Jonathan Freeny, Ramon Humber and Elandon Roberts and safety Cedric Thompson. If Grugier-Hill wants to win a spot over them, he needs to turn his athletic skillset into productive plays and show why his potential is a reason to keep him around.
But while his ceiling is higher than that of those he is competing against, Grugier-Hill still needs to perform in training camp and preseason. After all, the Patriots have as deep a roster as there is in the league. To make it, he needs to adapt to life in the NFL quickly and show an ability to learn the playbook and translate it to the field – otherwise, he might be headed for the practice squad.
Kamu Grugier-Hill has a lot of talent and athleticism, and his potential is intriguing. The question is whether or not he can use them as a foundation to quickly build upon. If he is, then his chances of making the Patriots’ 53-man roster as a core special teamer and backup linebacker/safety-hybrid do look good.