The Patriots selected Keion Crossen, a cornerback from Western Carolina, in the seventh round (243rd overall) of the NFL Draft Saturday.
Crossen is listed at 5-foot-9, 178 pounds, but his athleticism and speed set him apart from many other players at his position.
Pick 243 is a cornerback from Western Carolina.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) April 28, 2018
Here are some things you need to know about the secondary sleeper.
Getting drafted out of Western Carolina isn’t common…
…but it is more common than you might think. Seven players had been drafted from WCU prior to this year, but Crossen was the first since 1994.
He was the only player chosen from the Southern Conference in 2018, though his teammate Detrez Newsome recently signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Chargers.
If he does play for the Patriots, he won’t be the first WCU player to do so.
Remember David Patten? The WCU product reeled in 165 passes in four seasons for the Patriots, spanning from 2001-2004, including a breakout 61-catch campaign in 2002.
Patten, who went undrafted, racked up 16 touchdown receptions with the Patriots en route to three Super Bowl titles. The wide receiver even hauled in the Patriots’ only offensive touchdown in their 20-17 win over the Rams.
He also became the sixth player in NFL history to run, catch, and throw for a touchdown in the same game back in 2001, showing versatility that the former returner and running back Crossen has a chance to emulate.
Unsurprisingly, Crossen put up big numbers in college.
Crossen played in all 12 games as a freshman, racking up 17 tackles in his rookie campaign. The next year, he intercepted two passes, and his junior season he finished with 61 tackles and broke up seven passes.
As a senior, he bumped that number to 67 tackles, including 39 solo stops. He batted down a pass in the end zone on the final play against Samford, halting a 27-game winless drought against nationally ranked FCS competition.
Just how fast is he?
Obviously he’s a speedy guy, but how speedy are we talking here? He ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash and was the SoCon champion in the 100-meter dash for the track team his junior year. He set a school record in the preliminary rounds with a time of 10:33.
That came after a standout high school track career that saw him finish second in the state in the 400-meter dash.
He wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine.
He did attend a couple of Pro Days, though, and his 40 time would have put him near the top of the leaderboard at the Combine.
Crossen’s vertical (39.5) would have ranked second among cornerbacks, and his three-cone shuffle (6.67) and broad jump (10’11”) would have both been third.
He’s been defying expectations his whole life, and earning a spot on the Patriots is the next challenge.