The New York Giants selected former Georgia running back turned linebacker Tae Crowder with the 255th and final pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, earning him the dubious distinction as this year’s Mr. Irrelevant.
If he makes it onto the Giants’ 2020 roster, Crowder will join the Bulldogs’ first 2020 draftee, Andrew Thomas, who was selected fourth overall.
But the defensive competition in the Meadowlands is stiff, especially after the team drafted four linebackers — including Crowder — in the final two rounds of the draft.
The average age of the Giants’ 10 outside, inside and general linebackers already on the payroll is 24.5 years.
“We’re going to play with a lot of linebackers throughout the game,” Giants head coach Joe Judge said in an interview with SNY on April 27. “You build your defense, you really build two-thirds of your team. That’s really your defense and your kicking game by covering kicks. So, these guys have a lot of impact across the board right there.”
Given the depth of the Giant’s linebacker corps, Crowder’s impact on the team would likely come from special teams play.
Luckily for Crowder, one of his most memorable collegiate moments came in the 2018 Rose Bowl against Oklahoma when he snagged a bouncing kickoff six seconds before halftime, downing the ball inside Sooner territory and setting up a field goal that cut the Bulldogs’ deficit to two scores.
The instinctual play by the redshirt sophomore helped ignite momentum for Georgia’s Rose Bowl victory and subsequent national championship appearance against Alabama.
Despite participating in all of Georgia’s 15 games in the 2017-18 season, Crowder didn’t see meaningful playing time until the following season.
In 29 games as a fourth and fifth year, Crowder was anything but irrelevant on the Bulldog defense. The adopted linebacker ranked fifth on the 2018 defense in tackles with 53 and improved to second as a redshirt senior in 2019 with 62.
After five years in Athens, Crowder left with 122 tackles — 10 for a loss — and two interceptions.
In a Twitter post on April 25, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart praised Crowder’s development from a “tall, skinny beanpole” out of high school into a 6-foot-3, 235-pound stopgap in the middle of the Bulldog defense.
Untested in either the 2020 NFL Combine held from Feb. 23 to March 2 in Indianapolis or the canceled Georgia pro day initially scheduled for March 18, Crowder surpassed expectations with his draft selection by the Giants.
Crowder will have to beat the odds once more to shake the label of Mr. Irrelevant and carve out a spot on the Giants’ fall roster.