The Eagles are alive and kicking. A stunning upset over the Los Angeles Rams means their playoff hopes are burning the brightest they have in weeks. But in a season that’s been haunted by injuries and adversity, there’s one player who continues to slip under the radar.
That man is linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill. Drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2016 Draft, he would eventually be cut during the team’s final roster decisions that year, leading the Eagles to pick him up and take a chance on the former collegiate Safety.
Grugier-Hill brought stellar playing speed to the table. His 2.53 second 20-yard dash was almost a full tenth of a second faster than starter at the time, Mychal Kendricks…and it showed. A hard-hitting safety, Grugier-Hill amassed 16.5 tackles for loss during his senior season at Eastern Illinois, ranking 12th in the NCAA. But it would take a while for the Eagles to really see that shine outside of preseason.
Playing just one defensive snap in his rookie year, ‘KGH’ made his presence felt on special teams, playing in 42% of snaps. It was in 2017 however that saw his impact soar through the ceiling. Playing in a whopping 75.2% of snaps in Fipps prestigious unit, Grugier-Hill led the Eagles in special teams tackles (and even made a special appearance as an emergency kicker) and saw a total of 85 snaps on defense, registering 22 tackles in the process. He was also named a Pro Bowl alternate. Although there was limited tape, it was easy to see just how much he could bring to the table.
Grugier-Hill ended 2018 with a huge opportunity for the taking. Mychal Kendricks was no longer with the team and a lack of drafted talent partnered with the injury to Paul Worrilow meant that there would be a battle for the recently vacated OLB spot between himself and Nate Gerry.
The young linebacker took the bone and ran with it, doing all he could to separate himself from the competition, registering 13 total tackles during the team’s preseason campaign and doing more than enough to earn a solid rotational role to begin with. It didn’t take long for the former Patriot to make the most of that either.
In the team’s season opening win over Atlanta, Kamu made a terrific stop on a 4th-and-goal attempt in the first quarter, before speeding down the sideline later on to save the Eagles from surrendering six points, making a brilliant tackle. From there, Grugier-Hill has continued to carve out his role.
Although he’s only played in 33% of defensive snaps this year, the injury to Jordan Hicks has thrown him into the deep end once more. He’s already set a career-high in tackles with 42 this season and against the Rams, he played in 65% of snaps, amassing 3 tackles and a big QB hit on Jared Goff.
In the week prior to that, Grugier-Hill totaled 10 tackles against the Cowboys after partaking in some pregame trash talk. It’s safe to say he walked the walk although the Eagles couldn’t put the cherry on the cake.
With another year left on his rookie contract, there’s every chance that Grugier-Hill takes over the starting reins outside full time next year. The development from a depth player who many predicted would be cut during the offseason, to someone who continuously steps up and makes big-time plays has been extremely fun to watch. The scary part is, the 24-year old is only going to get better as he continues to earn more defensive playing time.