Scouting Report: Shawn Crable

Despite a fantastic effort from Shawn Crable, the senior linebacker's high school career came to an end last Saturday night, in an overtime loss to Warren Harding. Sam Webb and Matt Pargoff were there to see it, and each provide their unique take on the skills and potential of Shawn Crable.<br><br> (There are some great pics inside as well -- see Crable 'sky like Superman!')

Sam's Take:

Shawn Crable has been a name on the tip of every Michigan recruitnik's tongue for a couple of years now. Having stated that he grew up a Michigan fan only increased that interest. Some of the things inquiring fans have heard coming out of Ohio are, "he's a tweener", "he doesn't make a lot of plays", "he's too skinny", "he doesn't live up to the hype," etc. After seeing Shawn workout this summer, I couldn't imagine how any of that could be true. The kid looked and worked out like a big time athlete. At the same time, I realized that things could certainly be different once he put the pads on. But, just as I expected, Shawn was a player who had to be accounted for on every play last Saturday.

Crable (#2, in orange) gets in his stance

Crable was everywhere on defense! He rushed the passer. He played the run. He dropped into pass coverage. The kid was literally a one man wrecking crew. That was in spite of the fact that Harding went away from him for most of the game. Because of that, he didn't fill up the stat sheet, but he certainly made his presence felt.

Crable blows up the block in the backfield

Much of the discussion about Shawn centers around the position that he'll play in college. In my opinion, he could play wherever he wants. It doesn't matter if he plays at linebacker or defensive end. He exhibited the skills necessary to excel at both.

On several occasions against Harding, Crable was asked to rush the passer from his linebacker spot. He did that in a big way! He displayed outstanding speed around the corner. When not employing the pure speed rush, he demonstrated the moves that seasoned college and pro pass rushers use. He used the "arm under," the "swim", the "hit and jerk", and the "bull rush." Many times, one Harding player chipped him and then another picked him up. Shawn was still very effective.

Shawn prepares to take on the block

Even when Crable didn't sack or hurry the quarterback, he still affected the play. On a couple of occasions, Shawn came around the corner and absolutely LEAPED off of the ground to affect the throw. There's no doubt in my mind that he will be a good pass rusher. The scary thing is, Shawn was just as impressive against the run as he was rushing the passer.

Shawn (#2, second from left) prepares to jump to block the pass

Shawn (center) 'leaps tall buildings' to bat down the ball

Despite his thin frame, Shawn is very strong. He has that wiry strength that we see in players like Jason Taylor and Jevon Kearse. That strength allowed Shawn to hold up very well against the run. As a matter of fact, I didn't see him get pushed back off of the line the entire game. Running plays that went in his direction were pretty much doomed from the start. Most of Harding's successful running the ball came up the middle or opposite of Shawn's side. Despite the fact that most of the plays went away from him, he never quit. He tried to chase down every play he could. He really flashed his excellent speed when in backside pursuit.

Crable takes on the block

Shawn (center-right) engulfs the ball carrier

The final piece of Shawn's game was dropping into coverage. He displayed a great feel for getting proper depth on his drops and flowing with the quarterback's eyes. He did pretty well in man coverage, but will probably need to continue working on his technique at the next level. Shawn also showed himself to be a very sure tackler. I only saw him miss one tackle, which occurred while trying to make the play after dropping into coverage. The runner put a nice move on Shawn, and was able to get by. Other than that one play, any ball carrier in his vicinity hit the turf.

Shawn drops into pass coverage

Crable (center-right) comes up to tackle the ball carrier

Just as was the case with Prescott Burgess, I was asked whom I would compare Crable to. The first player that comes to mind is Jason Taylor of the Miami Dolphins. Ironically, Taylor played his college ball on the very same field that we were watching Shawn play on Saturday. They have similar 'sleek' body types, but are both extremely strong. Many of the things being said about Shawn now are just the things that were said about Taylor when he came out in the draft. Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson discounted that talk because he recognized that Taylor was a player. I'm the furthest thing in the world from Jimmy Johnson, but you'd have to be Ray Charles not to see that Shawn Crable is a player too! That's probably why the Michigan coaching staff loves him so much. He would be the quintessential rush linebacker in the Michigan system. He could also play SAM (strong side linebacker) if that were needed. I think he'll be able to put on the necessary weight for him to endure the college game. He might never reach 280 pounds, but he can reach 250-260 pounds (Taylor plays defensive end in the NFL at 6-6 260 pounds). Increasing his strength is a forgone conclusion, as he's already excelled within Massillon Washington's great weight program. The team that lands Shawn Crable will be very very lucky!

Matt's Take:

The first thing that strikes you about Shawn Crable is that he's a skyscraper on the field -- every bit of his listed 6-6. He was by far the tallest player in the Washington/Harding game. In my opinion, that is the primary reason that so many publications list him as a defensive end. When you see a tall player with size and speed, the automatic assumption is that he will grow into a defensive end. However, in my opinion, Crable would probably be best suited to play outside linebacker in college. He'd be an unusually tall linebacker, but he has the speed and athletic ability to play the position.

Crable (#2) loosens the legs

The primary reason I don't think he'll play defensive end in college is that I don't think he has the weight-growth potential that some attribute to him. I don't think there's any way that he'll grow to be 280 pounds, as some have claimed. Crable has skinny legs and hips. While he has the frame in his upper body to gain weight, he probably can't add too much to his legs. In my opinion, he'll probably play at around 250 pounds in college. Imagine the lower body of Ernest Shazor, with the upper body of Pierre Woods (complete with long arms), and with similar athletic ability to Woods as well.

Crable continues to get loose

In addition, Crable was very impressive at outside linebacker against Warren Harding. He was all over the field, making plays against the run and rushing the passer. I only witnessed an opposing player get outside of him one time, and Shawn was still able to angle the runner out of bounds. Crable showed great speed and quickness, and despite being every bit of his listed 6-6, he was able to get low in making tackles. He didn't show the ability to make the big hit, but was a very solid tackler. He was also very quick to recognize passes, and drop into his zone. With his size and wingspan, he would be very difficult to throw around at the college level.

Crable (center-left) prepares to make the play in the backfield

In my opinion, Crable definitely has the speed and athletic ability to play linebacker in college. He would just be a very unique linebacker, because of his height.

(Be sure to check out the pictures that we didn't use in this report in a photo gallery appearing in the next few days.)

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