As a former lacrosse star, Dalton Crossan inevitably hears the comparisons to Chris Hogan as he prepares for the NFL draft. Hogan went from playing lacrosse at Penn State to, several years later, starring for the New England Patriots in the playoffs. Crossan was a lacrosse star at Sachem North High School on Long Island, New York, and he turned down offers to play lacrosse at the likes of Michigan and Notre Dame in order to play football at New Hampshire.
The comparison to Hogan is easy -- and somewhat lazy. They have different builds and don't even play the same position. Hogan (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) played one season of college football as a wide receiver at Monmouth, catching 12 passes and scoring three touchdowns. Crossan (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) is much more accomplished entering the NFL draft. He compiled close to 3,400 yards from scrimmage and 36 career touchdowns during his four years as a running back at New Hampshire. He had close to 2,000 all-purpose yards in 2016.
Crossan liked playing lacrosse and was good at it. But he had a love for football and was good at that as well; the decision was easy. He didn’t expect to be hearing about it four years later but isn’t insulted by the comparisons to Hogan.
“I always loved football. I didn’t love lacrosse,” Crossan told ESPN. “Obviously, [Hogan] is a guy I love to get compared to because of how well he’s doing and how successful he’s been, especially this season.”
Crossan’s accomplishments and skills have attracted the attention of more than a few NFL teams. That has little -- or likely nothing -- to do with Hogan’s success. Crossan worked out recently for the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. He attended the New York Giants' and New York Jets' local pro days last week and received positive feedback.
Then there are the Patriots, the team that employs Hogan. They have been sniffing around since last season, which will only reinforce the comparisons.
“They’re definitely a team that has shown more of, if not the most, interest throughout the process,” Crossan said.
The Giants were impressed with what they saw, and why wouldn’t they be? Crossan has a track record of success and is physically gifted. He isn't an inferior athlete who thrived because he played at the FCS level. Crossan ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds at the New Hampshire pro day and blazed through the 20-yard shuttle in 4.06 seconds. The latter would have easily been the best among running backs at the NFL combine.
Crossan’s versatility and pass-catching skills (105 collegiate receptions, 93 more than Hogan) have some believing he will be a Day 3 selection. Crossan is being looked at as a running back and/or slot receiver and returner.
His athleticism has been put on display in the pre-draft process, including while he trained at EXOS in San Diego with some of the draft’s top prospects, including Michigan defensive back Jabrill Peppers, Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas and Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II. There, Crossan wasn’t just hanging with some of the draft’s top players. He was besting them fairly regularly in combine-type drills and competitions such as the shuttle or fastest speed on the treadmill. Crossan reached 21 mph.
Teams have taken notice of his combination of athleticism and versatility throughout the draft process, which began for Crossan in January at the College Gridiron Showcase, where he interviewed with 12 teams, including the Giants. The Seahawks recently worked him out strictly as a wide receiver, and some teams have had him catch punts and kicks. He has noticed the more he can do, the better.
“I think my draft stock has definitely rose,” Crossan said. “A lot of things I’m hearing from scouts and all is that there is definitely a shot to get drafted fifth-to-seventh round. A couple teams told me if I don’t end up getting drafted, I’ll be one of their first calls the second the draft ends as a priority free agent.”
The feedback has been positive, even from New Hampshire alum and former NFL coach Chip Kelly. He talked to Crossan last month during a visit to his home state and told Crossan he could “definitely play” at the NFL level.
Kelly stressed special teams for Crossan to make a name for himself. Once he makes himself indispensable on special teams, Kelly told him, the opportunities to showcase what he can do on offense will come. He believes Crossan has the talent to succeed at the next level, whether he’s drafted or not.
Hogan wasn’t. He was a lacrosse player trying to make it in the NFL. He bounced as an undrafted free agent before sticking and succeeding with the Patriots.
Crossan is a football player attracting some serious attention during the pre-draft process. When it comes to the comparisons with Hogan, he’s already way ahead of the curve.