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Welcome To New England, Kamu Grugier-Hill

Kamu Grugier-Hill fits the new mold of player making headway in the NFL- the LB/S hybrid player. New England has been tinkering with these defensive formations for years, calling it the "Big Nickel" and now it has evolved to the point where these former "tweeners" are gold because they can defend the run and the pass.

With the 208th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select OLB/SS Kamu Grugier-Hill of Eastern Illinois State:

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Grugier-Hill, who is listed at 6-2, 215 pounds, hails from Papkolea, Hawaii and played his high school years at Kamehameha High School in Honolulu. He played for head coach David Stant, being featured as a safety and a punter. He finished his senior season with 86 tackles, five sacks, and one blocked field goal. After his decorated high school career ended, Grugier-Hill took his talents to Eastern Illinois University, the same school that produced Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. 

Hill didn't waste any time getting on the field, appearing in all 12 games at linebacker and making his presence known immediately. In his first career start, he had four tackles and one for a loss, then followed it up with seven total tackles vs. Central Arkansas. He showed a nose for the ball and the coaching staff knew they had a good one. His sophomore year was even better as he played in 14 games, starting five. He finished the season with 43 total tackles, 25 solo tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, one forced fumble, one blocked punt, and two passes broken up. He was all over the field and he still had two more years left to go.

Grugier-Hill started 11 of 12 games as a junior, leading the team with 47 solo tackles, 50 assisted tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two fumbles recovered. For the first time in his career he was named to the first team All-Ohio Valley Conference, and he was starting to get noticed by NFL scouts. His best game of 2014 came vs. Tennessee Tech when he finished with seven solo tackles, 12 assisted tackles, four tackles for loss, and one interception. He was everywhere that day, a testament to his speed, tenacity, and awareness.

As a senior, Grugier-Hill started ten games, and the only reason he didn't start all 12 was because he got injured and missed the final two games of the regular season. Even with the two lost games, Grugier-Hill still had his best statistical season at Eastern Illinois. He finished the season with 50 solo tackles, 20 assisted tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries, two quarterback hits, two passes broken up, and one interception. His best game of the season came in the last of his career as he returned from injury to face Northern Illinois in the FCS Playoffs. He finished the game with eight solo tackles, one sack, and two fumble recoveries, a great way to end a terrific career. For the second consecutive season, Grugier-Hill was named to the first team All-Ohio Valley Conference. 

Grugier-Hill projects as an outside linebacker in the NFL and some expect the Patriots to try and go full conversion, adding weight and making him a full-time outside linebacker. With his 4.45 speed, it may not make sense for the Patriots to have him gain too much weight because it could effect him in a negative way. They'd be facing this dilemna- would you rather have him for third down and passing situations because he still has his excellent speed and explosion, or do you risk making him strictly a linebacker and have him more valuable if he develops well. It's a question the Patriots coaching staff is facing and one they will answer in training camp. 

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