Cameron Gordon played many roles on defense during his five years at Michigan, but it might have been his special-teams prowess that caught New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s eye.
Gordon was recruited to Michigan as a wide receiver, but he started 13 games at safety in 2010 as a redshirt freshman. He then moved to linebacker and ended his career as a pass rusher, a similar career arc to that of last year’s Patriots second-round pick, linebacker Jamie Collins.
Gordon has been playing linebacker during Patriots practice, but the undrafted rookie knows he’ll have to crack an NFL roster on special teams.
“Special teams is definitely a strong suit here,” Gordon said when asked if his experience in the kicking game was discussed during his pre-draft meetings with the Patriots. “You definitely want to make the team on special teams.”
The senior captain said he played every unit of special teams during his career at Michigan. That experience, plus his impressive athleticism, likely is what enticed the Patriots to sign Gordon to a contract with $35,000 guaranteed — the highest among the team’s undrafted rookies.
Gordon ran a 4.72-second 40-yard dash at Michigan’s pro day in March, with a 6.74-second three-cone drill, 4.28-second short shuttle, 36-inch vertical leap and 9-foot-8 broad jump. Gordon recorded 40 tackles as a senior with five sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss.
The Patriots typically keep at least one linebacker whose biggest contribution is on special teams. Last year, it was veteran Chris White, and in the past, it has been speedy, undersized players such as Eric Alexander, Tracy White and Larry Izzo. Gordon could be the next in line to serve that role in New England.