Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Draft Profile: Rd 3 - Tyrone Crawford, DE - Boise State

The following is the 1st in a series of draft profiles for the Dallas Cowboys selected players from April's draft. These profiles are put together after watching significant amounts of tape from each player, and is an attempt to examine their resumes and play to get an idea of how they might fit in best with Dallas come training camp.

Tyrone Crawford
Boise State
6'4, 275
40 time: 4.85, Bench Press: 28
November 22, 1989 (22)

The most enjoyable part of the NFL Draft process for some of us who really love the game is to recognize that no matter how hard we try as media or fans to anticipate what goes on inside the Cowboys war room (or any team's, for that matter), we quickly see that we have no idea what they are thinking and who they like on draft day. Oh sure, sometimes we can piece clues together between sources and visits and various other items, but for the most part, when a name is announced, it causes many of us to scramble to figure out who a player is and what the Cowboys saw in him.

After the Cowboys selected at #6, they had a long trip to get to #81 for their next selection. As the pick approached, we all had guys that we thought might fit with the needs and interests of the Cowboys. With about 15 minutes to go before their pick, I tweeted out this message: I would really like Ta'Amu at #81. Really hard. Would settle for C Blake, WR Adams, or LB Ronnell Lewis. Ta'Amu went at Pick #109, Blake at pick #108, Adams at pick #104, and Lewis went at pick #125. Regardless of what I thought - or any other media member thought - I don't believe any of us suggested they were about to grab Boise State's Tyrone Crawford. But, they did. And I trust their ability to collect information way more than any of us on the outside.

So, let's examine Crawford; now that we know much more about him after looking at plenty of his playing tape (some of which is below for you, but Boise State is thankfully replayed plenty on television if you keep your eyes open) and try to see what the Cowboys saw when they plugged a hole with this native Canadian.

Crawford is 6'4 and weighed 275 at the NFL Combine. He is supposed to be around 280 now, and I can tell you that the Cowboys think it would not be difficult at all to get his weight to 290-295 in time with natural growth and being inside the Cowboys' weight room. But, the great news is that despite his room to grow, he is already quite strong. His 28 reps on the bench press in Indianapolis will put him near the top of the list for players at defensive end and certainly players with his arm length. When you combine his 80" wingspan and his 28 reps, you find a great combination of length and strength. This is all positive news that can be improved, as well.

He played on an exceptional Boise State roster that featured a number of draftable players, including 2 1st round picks. When watching his defensive tape, he is sometimes overshadowed by his equally impressive teammates. But, Crawford has been more than productive at Boise, making 1st team All-Mountain West and very much on the radar of those who follow his program and conference.

Shea McClellin was picked at #19 by the Chicago Bears as a DE/OLB. In the last 2 seasons, Crawford and McClellin have been bookends of productivity. In 2010, McClellin led the team with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. 23 explosive plays led the team as well, but right behind him was junior college transfer Crawford, in his first taste of big time college football, with 7 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Quite impressive work.

Then, in 2011, McClellin found 7 sacks, Crawford 6.5. And in tackles for loss, Crawford led the team with 13.5 and McClellin had 12.5. There is no doubt the combination fed off each other, and when you consider that Tyrone Crawford played 2 years at Boise State and accounted for 13.5 sacks and 27 tackles for loss in just 25 college games, you can see what interested the Cowboys as both a productive college player in the present tense, and a player with tremendous growth opportunities in the future.

When you watch him, a few things jump out at you. First, he does look undersized compared to the other players in the trenches, but once the ball is snapped, his size packs an impressive strength. Offensive lineman do bounce back when he hits them at the snap, and he has a the ability to get a decent push and to stand up at the point of attack. He gets to the passer often enough, but it does look like he needs a fair amount of work in technique on pass rush moves. He really doesn't seem to have any moves beyond using his quickness to get around the corner and then actually gets a lot of his production from retracing his path and getting a QB or ball carrier from behind because his motor runs high and he never quits on a play. You would like to think the Cowboys can teach him technique in using his hands and developing some set-up moves. When that happens, he might be a guy who can trouble the pass protection even more.

Against the run, there is plenty of promise, but we should understand that this might be a work in progress. On 1st and 2nd Down in the NFL, the defense depends on its DEs to stand up against direct blocks and sometimes the double team blocks that are sent in your direction to bulldoze you out of the way. He can handle himself well most of the time, but does get caved in on occasion. He also sometimes gets caught by a down block from a tight end on a play to his outside, but dealing with that comes with recognition and growth.

He has good athleticism for a DE, but you can see the stiff hips that would keep him from being a candidate for OLB. But, whether you are looking for a slicing 1-gap DE or a 2-gap player who can stand his ground, I can clearly see what the Cowboys wanted here. On plays away from him, he shows exceptional pursuit, and his speed from his spot out to the sideline will really rock your world if you have been watching Marcus Spears and Kenyon Coleman recently.

They placed a premium on players who play hard and play to the whistle, and as we go down this list of draftees, I think you will see that trait is present on all of their defensive selections. They wanted football-smarts, desire, and upside, and I think Tyrone provides all of that.

Here are some youtube cut-ups for your own personal eye-ball test, but again, watch for them on television. 2 days ago, they replayed Boise State at San Diego State and Crawford put on a nice show on that occasion:

He wears #40 for Boise:

Vs Georgia

Vs Hawaii

Summary: I think he will be a candidate to immediately step in the rotation as a DE, primarily on nickel downs at first. But, overall, the Cowboys look to have a real legitimate prospect who already makes enough plays that he is worth the investment. Once they can coach him up into a player with a full array of moves, this could be the 3-down Defensive End that can stop the madness of designated DEs that this team has been forced into over the last several years. At this position, they have had either "run stoppers" or "pass rushers" at the spot. Finally, you can see how with some work and development, Crawford could do both. With just a bit of patience, I think this is a pick the Cowboys can be pretty pleased with.

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