Allen Sounds Optimistic About Rookie DE Crawford Despite Unimpressive Spring

Sigmund Bloom@SigmundBloomNFL Draft Lead WriterJune 29, 2012

ALAMEDA, CA - MAY 12:  Rookie Jack Crawford #91 walks off the field after practice of the Oakland Raiders Rookie Minicamp on May 12, 2012 at the Oakland Raiders Training Facility in Alameda, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Raiders rookie class was one of only two in the entire league to lack a first and second round pick, so getting early contributions from their draft picks isn't a given. It sounds like head coach Dennis Allen is expecting something out of fifth-round defensive end Jack Crawford, but is it out of necessity?

Paul Gutierrez of CSNBayArea reports that Crawford "did not stand out much" at OTAs and mini camp sessions open to the media, but according to Gutierrez, Allen still sees Crawford getting on the field:

"He’s big, athletic, runs really well... and he’s had some production, and so again we look for versatility in guys and we try to find roles for specific guys and I think as you look at him, as we get a chance to work with him, I think we’re going to be able to define a pretty good role for him."

Allen and Gutierrez both mentioned Crawford's 6'5" 274 lb. frame. In fact, that is the only thing that did stand out about Crawford in Gutierrez's eyes (although Gutierrez also grants that Crawford didn't get "taken to the woodshed" either). 

The funny thing is that Crawford is actually lighter than the players he will back up or rotate with at left defensive end. Lamarr Houston is 6'3" 305 and should dominate on run downs. Desmond Bryant is a 6'5" 290 converted defensive tackle. 

As you can see from the video below of Crawford matched up with Pittsburgh Steelers second-round pick Mike Adams, he is not a sudden pass rusher who can get to the quarterback in a hurry. If Crawford is the passing down end against Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, that will make their life easier, especially now that Kamerion Wimbley is a Titan.