HOUSTON — Keion Crossen makes his living in fast and dangerous territory, thriving as a special-teams ace who has mastered defeating blocks to tackle elusive kick returners. A former New England Patriots seventh-round draft pick from Western Carolina who’s been traded twice, Crossen has established himself as one of the best special-teams contributors in the NFL.
Heading into his fifth NFL season, the North Carolina native validated his belief in himself and anyone who ever doubted his skills when the veteran cornerback and special-teams ace signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Miami Dolphins this offseason.
CB Keion Crossen ready for new opportunity with Miami Dolphins
“They were definitely wrong, man,” Crossen said with a big smile during a youth football camp held by former New York Giants teammate Josh Kalu. “That’s the name of the game: prove them wrong. You always got to prove people wrong. You get to prove it to yourself exactly what you do and get better and be consistent, play fast and have fun.”
In four NFL seasons with the Patriots, Houston Texans, and Giants, Crossen, 26, has recorded 86 career tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one sack, and six pass deflections. With the Giants last season, Crossen played a career-high 76% of the special-teams snaps and had 13 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
Crossen has 35 career tackles in 938 snaps on special teams. Crossen played a career-high 307 snaps on defense in 2020 with the Texans, starting four games and recording five pass breakups and 46 tackles.
A former conference champion in the 100 meters at Western Carolina, Crossen ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds at his campus pro day workout. He was traveling 24 miles per hour at his top speed. He also had a 39 1/2 inch vertical leap and a 6.67 three-cone drill.
Crossen joins Dolphins over other suitors
Crossen joined the Dolphins in part because of his relationship with defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, his former Patriots assistant coach, the presence of special teams coordinator Danny Crossman, and the opportunity to play for first-year coach Mike McDaniel.
“It’s been good, man,” Crossen said. “We’re all coming together as a team. The main thing is one goal, one team. The ultimate goal is to win a super bowl, but that comes with practice and the season ahead of us. I’m just taking it day by day. (McDaniel), he’s a high-spirited guy. He’s almost like one of the guys. Obviously, we have the utmost respect for coach McDaniel. He allows us to play fast, play aggressive, and have fun.
“I started my career with Josh Boyer. I know the special teams coach. He’s treated me well. His group is coached really, really well. I’m really about family. I’m a family man. I want to be with a team that’s going to work hard and is going to win and good coaching. That’s why I chose Miami. The taxes down there aren’t too bad, either.”
Crossen has a strong message of perseverance and community service to impart on budding football players.
“It’s always good to come back to Houston and enjoy the kids,” Crossen said. “Kalu put on a good camp. It’s all about giving back and helping the next generation. It’s a blessing. No question, the way to grow in this world is to help the next generation. As athletes, we’re role models. We’re big brothers.”