Prior to the draft, not much was known about Boise State defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford. When the Cowboys drafted him in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, there was a loud outrage generated by fans questioning the ability of the front office to draft players.
This outrage wasn’t because Crawford is a low-talent player, but because he was a relatively unknown name when big names were still available.
When Crawford came out of college, many people said that he was too raw to become a solid NFL prospect. He started one year at Boise State, but was considered to be a long-armed explosive lineman who can be a real defensive force. However, his lack of experience led most people to believe that he hadn’t developed the proper fundamentals and mechanics for the game.
I was one of those people, and man, was I wrong. Turns out Crawford can play.
Crawford houses a 6’4", 292 lb. frame and is known as a pass-rush specialist. He may also be the most important addition to the Cowboys this offseason.
The Cowboys are a team in deep need of an effective pass-rusher at the defensive end position. While they do have elite players like Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys are awful in terms of producing pass-rush away from these players.
Queue Crawford, who is having an excellent camp. He seems to have added about 10 lbs. to his playing weight, additional pass-rush moves to his repertoire, and a nasty streak to his game. Crawford is showing up everyday, and his work ethic is garnering the coaches and fans attention.
Crawford is a blue-collar type of player. He is a player with a high motor who never quits. He’s a guy with similar speed to that of a base 4-3 end, but also has exceptional strength that makes him project well in a 3-4 scheme.
It’s this versatility that makes Crawford dangerous.
Rob Ryan’s scheme is complex and functions off the premise that it’s effective to move players around to create the best matchups.
Crawford is actually a matchup nightmare. He has the skill set to be productive as both an outside linebacker and defensive end. His pass-rush ability is solid, but he seems to be able to make plays in the backfield with ease. His speed makes it hard for linemen to grab him off the edge, and his strength gives him the ability to shed blocks if they do.
Though Crawford doesn’t project as the blue-chip superstar that Morris Claiborne does, he does provide exceptional young talent to a position of dire need in which he can be productive right way. Crawford is certain an upgrade over Marcus Spears and Kenyon Coleman and will be one of the biggest steals of this year’s draft.
Bet on it.