Matt Judon has made his NFL bones and earned a massive free agent contract this offseason thanks to a career playing the defensive edge with the Ravens.
The former fifth-round pick out of Grand Valley State recorded 34.5 sacks over five seasons in Baltimore. He earned a trip to the Pro Bowl each of the last two years when he notched 9.5 and 6 sacks, respectively, as mostly an outside linebacker.
Now in New England under a four-year, $54.5 million contract, Judon wants to make sure everyone is aware that he’s not a one-trick pony by any means. Or a one-position player, either.
During a Zoom call with reporters following a practice at the Patriots mandatory minicamp last week, Judon interrupted a question about his “mostly” being an edge defender in the past.
“You ain’t been watching me man! I’ve played everything, man,”Judon exclaimed. “I was on the edge. I was inside. Sometimes, I was lined up at corner. It just depended on what the call is. I feel like I’ll do the same here and hopefully I have as much or more success here, just being in a room with inside linebackers, being in a room with a Super Bowl champion coaching us and Super Bowl champions also in the room. Wherever they need me, that’s where I’ll be on that play and I’ll to the job to the best of my ability.”
The versatile, athletic, 6-3, 275-pounder is taking his early days and lessons in New England in stride.
“Just a learning experience, learning different calls, different plays, different schemes, different systems every day. It just continues to build and build and I’m enjoying it though,” Judon said. “It’s been fun. It’s been different than Baltimore. But at the end of the day, it’s football. So right now, I got to just continue to learn and continue to apply the film to the teachings that I get from my coaches and take that out onto the field to execute.”
How and where that will be, exactly, is anybody’s guess.
Judon has a somewhat unique skill set. Bill Belichick and his defensive coaches are a game-plan group, changing schemes and the way they use players each and every week depending on matchups.
While it probably is a little much to expect Judon to play cornerback, as he suggested – although depending on how things go with Stephon Gilmore holding out, who knows???!! — pretty much any other position on the defense might be an option as he works in with the other versatile talents the Patriots have at their defensive disposal this fall. Inside, outside, on the ball or off of it.
“Man, I’ll be open to playing safety if coach asks,” Judon concluded.
And he just might.