Sunday, 18 August 2013

40 Players in 40 Days: Number 12 Scott Crichton

(photo cred: Steve Conner - Icon SMI)
With the blog all prettied up and ready for the ball, it's time to add another name to the Top 40 list. This next player was an unheralded three star recruit out of Tacoma, Washington who couldn't get any recruiting attention from the Huskies whom he dreamed of playing for his whole life. This player didn't let that get him down as he enrolled at Oregon State and after a redshirt year, took the Pac-12 by storm in 2011 and built on that success last year. The 12th best player in the Pac-12 is one of the most feared and well rounded defensive linemen in college football. He is Oregon State junior defensive end Scott Crichton. before we get to that, let's further break in the new blog with a recap of the first 28 players to be revealed prior to tonight:

40. WR Chris Harper, Cal
39. OLB/S Dion Bailey, USC
38. S Alden Darby, Arizona State
37. OT Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
36. DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, Colorado
35. S Deon Bucannon, Washington State
34. LB Shaq Thompson, Washington
33. DE Taylor Hart, Oregon
32. DT DeAndre Coleman, Cal
31. CB Terrance Mitchell, Oregon
30. C Hroniss Grassu, Oregon
29. DL Henry Anderson, Stanford
28. QB Kevin Hogan, Stanford
27. LB Carl Bradford, Arizona State
26. RB Storm Woods, Oregon State
25. QB Taylor Kelly, Arizona State
24. DL Cassius Marsh, UCLA
23. S Ed Reynolds, Stanford
22. OT Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah
21. TE Colt Lyerla, Oregon
20. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington
19. DT Leonard Williams, USC 
18. WR Brandin Cooks, Oregon State 
17. OL Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
16. OLB/DL Trent Murphy, Stanford
15. OL David Yankey, Stanford
14. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
13. LB Shayne Skov, Stanford
It didn't take long for Crichton to make an impact at the college level. He recorded two TFLs and one sack in his first career game and had his "welcome to college" moment in his third game when he recorded 11 total tackles, two TFLs, and a sack against UCLA. By the end of his freshman year, Crichton was already revered as one of the nation's best offensive linemen as he was named a national freshman All-American as he led as freshmen nationally with 14.5 TFLs and six (!) forced fumbles. He then spent the summer getting bigger, stronger, faster, and better and it showed as he became one of college football's premier defensive ends by racking up 17.5 tackles for a loss and nine sacks.

So what allows him to be so productive? You can start with his size. He has adequate height and length but he is very bulky. He is listed at 265 pounds which is rather large for a 4-3 defensive end. The thing is, that weight isn't fat as Crichton is ridiculously strong which allows him to anchor the corner against the run, bull rush tackles to collapse the pocket and gradually wear down offensive tackles which allows him to get better as the game goes along while his opponents get weaker. he won't run a great 40 time as most scouts expect him to be in the 4.7-4.8 40 range but he does have deceptive quickness that opposing tackles have to be mindful of. he uses leverage really well and is very good at shedding blocks. Most of all, he has a relentless motor. Great coaches are able to teach lazy players to play hard and develop a motor but Crichton has the type of effort level that you can only be born with. Here's a breakdown of Crichton against UCLA this past year:
The first play that leaps out at my is at the 0:45 mark. You can see that despite his low top end speed, Crichton has tremendous quickness and a good burst off the ball as he shoots the gap (he was lined up at DT, something he could do on 3rd downs at the next level to provide added value) and uses leverage to get underneath the blocker. He then reaches out and grabs the tailback to bring him down with one arm as he shows his ridiculous brute strength. At 3:15, he gets a sack solely from effort as he can't get a push off the line but sheds the block and chases down the QB as he smartly runs to where he will be instead of where he is and trips him up for a drive killing sack on third down. his strength, effort, and block shedding is on great display at 4:00 as he fights through a double team, spins out of it and pressures the QB into a bad throw. I've seen many players give up in situations like that but "give up" and "Scott Crichton" just doesn't go together.

The catch with Crichton is that despite his production and effort he won't go very high in the NFL draft because of his lack of athleticism. I think he has serious value as an interior rusher but I doubt he'll be able to do it consistently in the NFL at 265 pounds. The  real catch there is that at 6-3, he doesn't have the type of tall, long frame that will allow him to add another 10-15 pounds without becoming even slower. As a result, I can't see him ever being more than a situational player at the next level. However, the next level doesn't matter right now as Crichton still has two years of eligibility and he's likely to use both. He's already got 32 TFLs and 15 sacks in two years and he'll only get more productive and harder to play against with age. Crichton is truly one of the top players in the Pac-12 and I'm sure the Washington Huskies can't wait for him to move on and allow them to forget the mistake they made when they never recruited him.

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