Despite receiving praise from head coach Bill Belichick, rookie 6th round pick Kamu Grugier-Hill didn’t really play much against the Bears. KGH is on the books for just 5 snaps on defense.
That’s okay; he doesn’t need to play much during the actual games because he is catching the attention of the coaching staff and his teammates during practice.
“A leftover, behind-the-scenes nugget from Patriots-Bears joint practices,” ESPN’s Mike Reiss shared in his weekly notes. “After Bears backup quarterback Brian Hoyer was picked off by Patriots rookie linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill on Monday, he relayed that Tom Brady came up to him and told him not to take it too hard because Grugier-Hill is a good player and had been doing that to New England quarterbacks as well. Grugier-Hill, a sixth-round pick from Eastern Illinois, who shows up on all core special-teams units and has been disruptive on defense by closing quickly and showing good ball skills, has made a fast impression on some of his teammates in New England, starting with Brady.”
Now a lot of attention this offseason has been directed at the undrafted rookie cornerbacks Jonathan Jones and Cre’Von LeBlanc because their ascension mirrors Pro Bowl cornerback Malcolm Butler. They might not have tested too well, but they have great instincts and deserve to play in the NFL.
But while those players have received plenty of headlines for their pass break-ups, KGH has been in the notebook every single day for one reason or another. One day he’s intercepting Jimmy Garoppolo, the next he’s intercepting Jacoby Brissett and defending another pass. He made plays in practice against the Bears, even if he didn’t play much on defense.
There are clear differences in KGH’s story versus Butler’s. Butler was undrafted, KGH was selected in the 6th. No one wanted Butler, KGH was on the Patriots’ short list heading into the draft. Butler didn’t test well, KGH tested like Clark Kent.
The connection, in my opinion, comes with the reception and the praise for KGH. Remember back in Butler’s rookie offseason, he was also in the notebook of every reporter for his daily plays on the ball and Brady said that Butler was intercepting him in practice “all season.”
“This one player just kept making plays and I kept going, ‘Who is that? Who’s that guy running down balls?’,” Brady said about Butler’s rookie offseason, via NESN. “He had great quickness, great speed, great jumping ability, played the ball so well, intercepting passes all season long practicing on the scout team, and got some opportunities as the season went along to play on defense.”
I think this is where the parallels between KGH and Butler are most strong. KGH makes plays in practice every single day, just like Butler, and has caught the attention of both Brady and Belichick.
And while Bill himself says that we shouldn’t put KGH in the Hall of Fame just yet, the signs point towards KGH being a productive special teams player as a rookie with serious upside as a passing down defender in the future.