Tae Crowder Aims to Become Relevant in NFL
Eventually, when the COVID-19 related social distancing restrictions are eased, Giants linebacker Tae Crowder will get a chance to participate in the perks reserved for Mr. Irrelevant, the moniker given to the final player selected in the NFL’s annual draft.
But unlike most who have held the “Mr. Irrelevant” title, Crowder, out of Georgia, wants very much to not only be relevant in the NFL but to leave his mark as a versatile player.
“I’m an aggressive player, a disciplined player,” Crowder said when describing himself. “ A hard-working player and I like to make plays for the team. I can play Sam; I can play Will and Mike. I’m pretty good in coverage. I love to fit the run, and I love to cover backs too.”
Crowder is a converted running back who began his college career at Georgia Southern intending to join the Kentucky Wildcats program.
But as things started to fall into place, Georgia, which was Crowder’s first choice, came into the picture, and Crowder ended up there.
“I always knew I wanted to go to Georgia. I was having conversations with different people trying to figure out some things and trying to see if Georgia was going to ever (recruit) me,” he said. “But the week of signing day, that’s when I ended up finding out they wanted to give me the offer. They gave me the offer like two days or a day before signing day. That whole time was stressful for me, too, but that’s how I ended up going to Georgia.”
What Crowder didn’t anticipate was a position switch from running back to linebacker.
“I was just on the scout team at practice, just working hard, and my coach ended up noticing it just going against the number one defense, making plays, he saw that I was an athlete and that I should be on the field,” Crowder said.
“He reached out to me, we had a meeting, and he was like he sees me as a linebacker and stuff like that, as a defensive player. We just had a one-day tryout, and at that tryout, I ended up doing pretty good, and I stayed there from then.”
As a linebacker, Crowder got some good practice going against the likes of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel in practice.
“Just being in the room with them as a running back, it was crazy switching sides,” he said. “From running drills with them to now, I have to run drills against him. It just made me better as a young linebacker going against great athletes like them. It was fun; sometimes, it was tough moving to linebacker and going against them. They were first-round and second-round picks. It paid off, and it made me better.”
Had Crowder not been drafted, he likely would have been in high demand as an undrafted free agent. “Yeah, my agent was talking about it the whole time,” Crowder said. “We were already planning on doing free agent stuff. It worked out for me, though.”
When the Giants came through in drafting him, Crowder said he felt a sense of relief.
“It means a lot to me and my family and my community,” he said about being drafted. “I’m one of the first ones from my town to get drafted, and that’s pretty big. I’m from a small town, many people don’t make it from here. It brought the city out. They have my name hanging up in different places and stuff like that. It was a blessing and a dream come true for me.
“I can’t complain about getting drafted and coming to a great organization,” he added. “I’m just truly blessed for this.”
This weekend, Crowder and the rest of his rookie teammates, both drafted and undrafted, will take part in a virtual rookie minicamp held by the coaching staff.
“It will be very similar to what our vets have gone through,” head coach Joe Judge said last weekend when asked about the plan for the rookies. “For them, it will be a little bit more of an orientation on the front end to let them know a little bit more about our program.”
Eventually, Crowder will get a chance to be reunited with fellow linebacker Lorenzo Carter and cornerback DeAndre Baker, both of who he played with on the Bulldogs defense, and with Andrew Thomas, the Giants first-round pick who projects to be a starter, on the offensive line.
“It’s just a dream come true,” Crowder said of the opportunity. “We know how each other works. It will be fun catching up, going to work with them, and being on the field with each other once again.”