When the Dallas Cowboys traded away their 45th overall pick for LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne, they were basically handcuffed in what they could do until they picked again in the third round. Jerry Jones loves to trade, but trading back into the first or second round would have cost the team too much. This meant that it was going to be very quiet in the Cowboys war room for a while.
There were some really good prospects that went right before the Cowboys went on the clock with the 81st overall pick in the third round.
- Offensive guard Brandon Brooks was my main target, but he was drafted by the Houston Texans with the 76th overall pick.
- Linebacker Demario Davis looked like an animal and fits what the Cowboys like at linebacker, but he was drafted by the New York Jets with the 77th overall pick.
The Cowboys selected Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford with the 81st overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. I liked the pick at first, but there were some prospects with more of a household name that we passed on.
- Wide receiver Joe Adams was another one of my targets. He would have been a great punt/kick returner, something we still lack on this team. Adams also would have been an electrifying #3 wide receiver..
- Wide receiver Mohammed Sanu would have been a real steal in the third round.
- Defensive tackle Mike Martin looked like a Rob Ryan type of player, but I guess the Cowboys war room wasn't too high on him
- Defensive tackle Brandon Thompson was highly rated before the draft, but fell in the draft. I still think he may have been a great pick for us.
- Defensive tackle Alameda Ta'amu was a fan favorite, but had some injury concerns that dropped him.
Those are just a few of the names we passed on. Now I really like Crawford as a prospect, but I am just pointing out that we passed on some more established players. The Cowboys drafted players that were high on their board and stuck to drafting the "RKG" that Jason Garrett consistently preaches in his interviews.
After the pick, I went on the internet and began looking up some scouting reports on Crawford. I honestly paid more attention to the defensive end on the other side of him, Billy Winn. At first glimpse, I saw the word "raw" in many of Crawford's scouting reports. This gave me the impression that he was a project and that immediately made me depressed. After doing some more homework on the pick, I have come to the conclusion that Crawford can contribute right away, but he still has some growing to do as a football player.
- 22 years old
- 6'4, 282
- Boise State
- Defensive end
- From Windsor, Ontario
- 57 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 27 tackles for loss
Crawford didn't receive any scholarship offers coming out of high school and eventually enrolled at Bakersfield Community College in California. After working hard on improving his game, Boise State came calling and brought him onto a nationally ranked program. While at Boise, Crawford immediately made his presence felt on the defensive line.
He may not have a lot of football experience, but playing for Boise State definitely prepared him somewhat for the big stage. Many draft analysts had him as one of their rising prospects entering the draft.
Boise State DE Tyrone Crawford Draft Profile (via ProFootballWeekly)
- High upside and potential
- Excellent motor
- Great size
- Long arms
- Good change of direction, some quick twitch ability
- Very strong
- Good pass rusher
- Excellent attitude
- The RKG
- Lacks a lot of football experience
- Needs to enhance his technique as a defensive lineman
- Doesn't possess top end speed
- Can have trouble with double teams
- Needs to improve pad level
- Needs to improve instincts
Basically all of his positives are exactly what you look for in a five-technique defensive end. NFL.com analyst Mike Mayock was very high on Crawford when the pick was made. Also check out the this video of Mayock gushing about how good of a pick it was.
Mayock's take: "This is a good pick. He's the prototypical 5-technique in the 3-4 defense. He provides tremendous depth that the Cowboys want."
Mayock called J.J. Watt the "prototypical" five-technique last year, so when he makes that comparison I listen up. Crawford may not become Watt, but he has the potential to grow into a very good defensive end for the Cowboys. The war room could have went in a lot of different directions with the 81st overall pick. Upgrading the defensive line was a smart decision because they lack disruptive defensive ends.
Adding Crawford with Jason Hatcher and Sean Lissemore finally gives the Cowboys a solid rotational unit that can get after the passer. Keep in mind that this should open up plays for the outside linebackers. Some expect the addition of Crawford to improve the pass rushing stats of Anthony Spencer.
The expectations may not be too high for him this year, but I expect to see at least 4-6 sacks from Crawford this season. It wouldn't shock me to see him start opposite of Hatcher at defensive end. Crawford reminds me a lot of Jason Hatcher actually. Both were third-round draft picks that had some growing to do, but both possessed great athletic ability. I don't see him taking as to develop as it took Hatcher, so expect to see Crawford on the field sooner than later.
In a good draft, you usually get two or three starters with some productive rotational players. The 2012 draft will eventually be determined by the success of Morris Claiborne, but the picks after him do matter. Crawford should be a full time starter on the defensive line by 2013. At the end of the day, remember that he is a pass rusher first. After seeing the "dancing bear" type of defensive lineman that Bill Parcells made famous in Dallas, drafting players like Crawford is a welcomed sight.
NFL Draft Preview: Tyrone Crawford (via FoxSports)
Tyrone Crawford - DE - Boise State (via UDRLines)