While Combine results and pro-day numbers may say differently, when push comes to shove, Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill is widely regarded as the fastest man in the NFL. Rightfully dubbed the “Cheetah,” Hill has readily lived up to his moniker throughout his professional career, including back in 2016 when the Georgia native clocked in with a speed of 23.24 MPH on a kickoff return against the Houston Texans — the fastest ball carrier speed Next Gen Stats has ever recorded.
If any player in football has a legitimate argument to dethrone Hill, one would think that player would be John Ross. While far less prolific on the gridiron than Hill, the former top-10 pick clocked in with a blazing 4.22 40-yard dash at the 2017 combine — the fastest official recorded time in the history of the NFL Scouting Combine. However, it’s Ross’ New York Giants teammate, special teamer Keion Crossen, who has decided to throw his hat in the ring, via Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post:
If you think the fastest player in that ‘Monday Night Football’ game was Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill — nicknamed ‘Cheetah’ — or Giants receiver John Ross — who set the NFL combine record for fastest 40-yard dash (4.22 seconds) — then maybe you don’t know about the 25-year-old Crossen.
‘I’d arguably say I’m the fastest guy in this league when we’re talking about acceleration,’ Crossen told The Post. ‘I’ve taken a lot of pride in figuring out how to implement track speed into the game. You can only go so fast on the field because you have to play within the scheme, whether you are defense, offense or special teams. But speed is personal for me. That’s what I do best.’
Does Crossen Have a Case?
A seventh-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2018, the Giants acquired Crossen in a mid-August trade from the Texans after a two-year run in Houston. While the Western Carolina product was coming off a career campaign with the Texans defensively in 2019, the Giants acquired Crossen mainly for his special teams chops.
Through nine games in 2021, Crossen has played just eight defensive snaps (1%) — a 27% decrease when compared to last season with Houston. With that said, his 172 special teams snaps (73%) over the same span leads all Giants players — during which he’s readily flaunted his elite speed:
Crossen has run 20 mph on 60 plays this season, which was at least 12 more than every other player in the league entering Sunday’s action, according to NFL NextGenStats. He led in that category last year and has reached 20 mph on 234 plays since 2019 (25 more than the next-fastest man).
The Giants — like the Patriots and Texans before them — primarily deploy Crossen’s speed as a gunner on punts rather than as a defensive back. A gunner topped 22 mph 11 times over the first nine weeks of this season. The tally reads: Crossen 4, Rest of NFL combined 7.
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Crossen Fined for Hit on Raiders Punter
Crossen has recorded eight tackles (six solo), one sack, one tackle for loss, one QB hit, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery this season with the Giants. Over his four-year NFL career, Crossen has compiled 81 tackles and six passes defended.
He was recently fined $6,133 for unnecessary roughness after a late hit on Las Vegas Raiders punter A.J. Cole in Week 9.
Head coach Joe Judge on Crossen’s hit following the game:
I don’t know exactly what they saw. I’ll look at the tape myself, but it didn’t look like he went to the head area. I think Keion, he just explained to us that he saw (Pharoh Cooper) coming up the field, made a missed tackle, he stuck his foot in the ground and looked like he went up to what we call it, ‘next level’ and make the play on the person in front of you and the thing creased and got going. I don’t know if he even knew at that time it was the punter.
We’re not going to take cheap shots on anybody — quarterbacks, specialists or whatever it is. But at the same time, if it’s an interception or it’s a return and there’s somebody in the way where we’re going to run the ball, you’ve got to block them and open up that seam. I have not seen the tape. I caught a bit of it out of the corner of my eye. I’m going to take a look at it right there and if it’s anything that we have to correct, we’ll correct.