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Patriots pick Kamu Grugier-Hill in sixth round, highlight growing hybrid trend

With more of the NFL game played in sub packages, hybrid players who are linebacker/safety "tweeners" seem to be increasing in value across the NFL. That's where the New England Patriots’ selection of Eastern Illinois linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill fits late in the sixth round (No. 208).

My take: In the days before the NFL draft, I was speaking with an NFL executive from another team and asked about safety/linebacker types who might factor into the mix on special teams later in the draft, and that's when Grugier-Hill first showed up on the radar as one of my "five favorites" in the wild-card category for the Patriots. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Grugier-Hill ran well at Northwestern's pro day (4.4) and is a high-intangibles prospect who was teammates with third-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo at Eastern Illinois. Teams were aware of him and the value of this pick is consistent with what I heard entering the draft.

Where does he fit: Grugier-Hill will compete for a roster spot, and his performance on special teams will initially be key, somewhat similar to when Nate Ebner first joined the team as a sixth-round pick in 2012. With the Patriots in sub packages about 70 percent of the time, his speed and athleticism could eventually be tapped in a niche role if he develops in the system. Grugier-Hill had solid production on defense at Eastern Illinois, showcasing his explosion and anticipation with 16.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks in 2015.