Jared Crick has come a long way since 2007. As a high school senior from tiny Cozad, Nebraska, Crick was not a bad college football prospect by any means, but top 25 programs were not exactly knocking down his door either.
Rivals.com had Crick ranked as a three-star player, which pretty much summed up the consensus about him: Jared Crick was expected to be an average college football player—nothing more, nothing less.
Four years later, Jared Crick has become anything but average. After putting on 30 pounds since arriving at Nebraska, Crick now checks in at an imposing 6'6'' and 285 pounds. In Mel Kiper's first look at the top draft prospects for 2012, Crick came in ranked No. 22, which would place him squarely in the first round. Kiper compares Crick to this year's version of J.J. Watt, the ex-Wisconsin defensive end.
Like Watt, Jared Crick is not considered to be an elite athlete. However, he has been extremely productive due to a high motor and above average skill set for the position. For comparison, Watt was drafted as the 11th overall pick this year by the Houston Texans.
With that in mind, Crick could find himself being drafted rather early in the first round, depending on how the draft order shakes out and the respective team needs. While Crick has been a defensive tackle for the Huskers, Kiper projects a move to defensive end in a 3-4 defense in the NFL.
No matter what position he will play at the next level, it's hard to argue how good Crick has been. Since becoming a starter as a sophomore in 2009, Jared Crick has played at as high of a level on a consistent basis as any defensive linemen in the country.
There were concerns that after playing alongside the transcendent and dominate Ndamukong Suh in 2009 that Crick's numbers were inflated, as offenses focused so much of their blocking schemes toward stopping Suh.
These concerns were answered in resounding fashion in 2010 as Crick put up nearly identical numbers to what he had produced the previous season (73 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in 2009, and 70 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in 2010).
After turning in such impressive performances for one of the nation's best defenses, the honors started rolling in for Jared Crick. He has been named first team All-Big 12 in 2009 and 2010. For the 2010 season, Crick was also named an All-American (first team by Rivals, second team by AP, SI.com and CBSSports.com).
As long as he continues on his current path, being named one of Mel Kiper's top 25 players for next year's draft will be just the first of many honors Jared Crick will receive in 2011.
Some information and statistics for this article were used from ESPN.com and Huskers.com.