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What you need to know about new Giants’ CB about Keion Crossen

New Giant could be key special teamer, valuable reserve cornerback

Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans
Keion Crossen
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

What do we need to know about Keion Crossen, the special teamer and reserve cornerback the New York Giants acquired via trade (reported as a 2023 seventh-rounder) from the Houston Texans on Monday?

A connection to Joe Judge

Of course Crossen has ties to Giants coach Joe Judge. When the Patriots drafted Crossen in the sixth round in 2018, Judge was New England’s special teams coach. Crossen had eight tackles that season while functioning as a punt gunner, working on kickoff coverage and being part of the punt return team.

“He’s a guy that brings an element of speed and athleticism,” Judge said. “We’re going to get him involved with our defensive backs and our kicking units and see how far he can push himself.”

He isn’t just a special teamer

Crossen’s reputation is that of a premier special teamer. He had 10 tackles on special teams for the Texans last season. He can be a punt gunner and fill several other roles on special teams.

He played 439 snaps on defense over the last two seasons, though, including 307 (28 percent) in 2020. At 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, he played 260 snaps as an outside cornerback, 22 in the slot and 25 in the box.

“Our pro personnel department had high grades on him as a teams guy,” said GM Dave Gettleman. “The thing that’s really neat about Keion is he brings us line of scrimmage value as well as a corner.”

Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey is happy

McGaughey now has another core player for his group. Even better, Crossen has experience as a punt gunner.

“I know he can run very fast. Keion’s been in this league for, this is his fourth year now. Veteran player who’s been an outstanding gunner, penetrator and that’s what we’re looking for, that’s why we made the move to get him.”

Per Player Profiler, Crossen has been timed at 4.38 in the 40-yard dash, 94th percentile among defensive backs.

There is a place for him on the roster

The Giants have waived defensive back Chris Milton, placed defensive backs Joshua Kalu and Jarren Williams on injured reserve and reportedly dealt Isaac Yiadom to the Green Bay Packers. Rookie third-round pick Aaron Robinson (core muscle) has still not practiced during training camp.

As the Giants shape their eventual 53-man roster, there is a spot for Crossen.

This isn’t his first trade

Crossen was traded by the New England Patriots to the Texans after the 2018 season for a sixth-round pick.

5 questions with Battle Red Blog

To learn as much as we can about the new Giants cornerback/special teamer, I reached out to SB Nation’s Texans site, Battle Red Blog, for the lowdown. Tim McHale answered some questions about Crossen.

Ed: Why were the Texans willing to move on from him?

Tim: Guessing the primary motivation was the chance to add a draft pick in exchange for a player who the Texans didn’t view as a long-term piece.

Ed: What does he bring to special teams? I am guessing that is primarily why the Giants wanted him.

Tim: He’s a very solid special teams player. A poor man’s Johnson Bademosi, if you will. I’d agree that his special teams prowess and Joe Judge’s familiarity with him from their time in New England is the biggest reason he’s a Giant now.

Ed: Is he competent as a backup cornerback?

Tim: Yes. He actually acquitted himself quite well when he was pressed into action last season. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say he could be a rotational piece in the secondary, but Lord knows I’ve seen far worse defensive play in Houston’s secondary. Consider any non-special teams contributions found money.

Ed: Any memorable highlights to Crossen’s time in Houston?

Tim: I recall him breaking up a pass or two as a cornerback when pressed into action against the Bengals last year. Again, he was a considerably better DB than I thought he’d be.

Ed: Anything about him as off the field as a player, person, teammate we should know?

Tim: Nothing I’m aware of. Everyone speaks highly of him.