Patriots: Brandon King is the next Matthew Slater

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

Patriots: Brandon King is the next Matthew Slater

Brandon King Patriots
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /

When the New England Patriots signed Auburn product Brandon King on May 8th along with six other undrafted free agents, it was not earth-shaking news. For most of the summer, King flew under the radar in New England, quietly and diligently going about his business in hopes to make the final 53-man roster.

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However, King got the chop in the final round of cuts on September 5th along with Reggie Wayne and Jonas Gray. But the Patriots wasted no time in signing King back to their practice squad a few days later.

King continued to put in work on the practice field for the better part of a month before he finally caught his big break. When the Patriots slashed underperforming veteran cornerback Bradley Fletcher from the 53-man roster on October 10th, they promoted King to the active roster, and he’s been there ever since.

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King is the epitome of a Bill Belichick player. As a defensive player, he has the ability to play just about every position on the field; at Auburn, he played primarily safety but also dipped his toes into the linebacking corps and even saw snaps as a defensive end. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds with blazing speed for his size, King has all the versatility that Belichick looks for in a multi-faceted player.

And before our eyes, King is transforming into the next Matthew Slater, who has helped King along the way this season. Here’s what Slater had to say about the impressive rookie:

"The way he approaches his craft has been very rare for a young player. I can’t say enough good things about Brandon. Brandon has done a tremendous job of just buying in to what the coaches have asked him to do. He doesn’t say a whole lot, he just works hard. He’s really been a big weapon for us."

Belichick echoed the sentiments of Slater:

"He has the size to play some of the bigger positions and he has the speed to play some of the smaller positions. He’s an excellent matchup player in the kicking game, and he’s been productive for us all year both in the coverage phase and the return phase of the game. He’s been a real good addition to our unit."

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King has played the third-most percentage (54.4) of special teams snaps despite being on the practice squad for the first month of the season, behind only Slater (63.7 percent) and Nate Ebner (75.1 percent).

As evidenced by his 12 special teams tackles (which rank second only behind Slater’s 17) and his forced fumble on Leodis McKelvin back in Week 11, King is well on his way to becoming the next great special teams ace for the Patriots. The more he emulates the day-to-day habits and tendencies of Slater, the more secure King’s future is in New England.

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Who knows, maybe we’ll get to see what King can offer as a safety next season.