The New England Patriots currently have the maximum of 90 players on their active roster. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on September 1 and ultimately make the team. Over the next weeks, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots recapture the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Today, the series continues with one of the Patriots’ rookies.
Name: Keion Crossen
Jersey number: TBD (offseason #59)
Opening day age: 22
Size: 5’10, 185 lbs.
2017 review: Keion Crossen was steadily improving year-to-year during his career at Western Carolina, a progression that continued through his 2017 senior campaign. Playing in all 12 of the Catamounts’ games as a starter at the cornerback position, the 5’10 defender registered career-highs in tackles (67), sacks (1.0), and forced fumbles (1) and recoveries (1). Furthermore, Crossen deflected seven pass attempts.
His most notable pass breakup came during his team’s win over division I-ranked Samford: Crossen, playing in one-on-one coverage, got his hand on the potential game-winning touchdown and secured a Western Carolina victory. In general, he proved to be a physical defender that possesses the straight-line speed and physicality to successfully cover opposing wide receivers on the perimeter.
Despite his successful final college season, Crossen was not invited to the scouting combine. Instead, he had to perform at Wake Forest’s pro day – not without posting impressive numbers, though: Crossen’s 39.5 vertical jump would have ranked second among combine cornerbacks, while his three-cone drill (6.67) and broad jump (10’11) would have been third, and his 4.33 40-yard dash fourth.
2018 preview: Crossen had to wait until the 243rd selection before he heard his name called and the Patriots made him the seventh player in Western Carolina’s history to get drafted. As opposed to the first cornerback New England chose in April – Duke Dawson – Crossen is not guaranteed a spot on the team’s 53-man squad, though. Instead, he will have to prove himself on a crowded depth chart over the summer.
The rookie started his quest for a roster spot well: During the Patriots’ organized team activities, he saw regular snaps and was one of the standout defenders. In only his second session, Crossen registered an interception and two pass breakups. However, he suffered an undisclosed injury at a later point during offseason workouts and was only a limited participant during mandatory minicamp.
Crossen is expected to be ready when training camp opens, and he better be: In order to beat out his competition – most notably former second-rounder Cyrus Jones and undrafted rookie J.C. Jackson – and earn a spot on the team’s pay roll, he will need to be available to show his value as a potential nickel and dime cornerback and special teamer. If Crossen can do all that, he should at least make the Patriots’ practice squad.