Live from Indy: Crable gets meeting with Bucs

Is he a linebacker or is he a defensive end? Shawn Crable of Michigan has heard all the whispers, and after his meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the NFL Scouting Combine, he at least received some answers about how the Bucs perceive him. Find out more about Crable and the Bucs right here.

INDIANAPOLIS — Some scouts are confused about Michigan linebacker Shawn Crable.

Or is it defensive end?

I suppose it all depends on what defense you play.

Crable, who came to the Scouting Combine weighing 245 pounds and measuring 6-foot-4, is what scouts call a "tweener."

Is he too tall to play linebacker, or too small to play defensive end?

While scouts from NFL teams — including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who met with Crable on Friday — debate, Crable sees his versatility as a plus.

"I think that's a bonus for me. I can play both positions," Crable said. "I'm kind of excited about it. I thought I'd be doing linebacker drills when I got here but I've got to go with the stuff they give me (he pointed to the fact his shirt read DL 10). I've got two different T-shirts, one read linebacker and the other read defensive end. I think it's going to be a good challenge.''

It will be a challenge for NFL teams to find a place for Crable, who is projected for right now as a second or third-round pick.

For a team that plays the 4-3 defense — like the Bucs — Crable projects best as a defensive end. The problem is his weight. At 245 pounds, he weighs less than current backup end Patrick Chukwurah, who weighs 250 pounds.

For teams that play the 3-4 defense, Crable is looked upon as a pass-rushing linebacker who can also offer coverage skills.

It doesn't help when Crable hears a different thing for every meeting he goes to here in Indianapolis.

"I've talked to a lot of teams and sometimes I've walked into the room and they'll say ‘You make a better defensive end' and then I'll walk out of that room and into another room and they'll be like ‘No, you're not a defensive end, you're a linebacker,'" Crable said. "You never really know. I'm just preparing for everything."

So when Crable walked into his meeting with the Buccaneers, he got a little surprise. He's on their board, he admitted, but not just at defensive end.

"It went well," Crable said. "They've got me up on their board at linebacker and at defensive end. We talked about both positions. They have some small linebackers, so they're probably looking at me more as a defensive end."

Why would the Buccaneers give Crable a look? His ability to get into the backfield. What stuck out from his breakthrough year at Michigan were his 28 tackles for loss for 85 yards, second-best in the nation.

The Bucs improved their pass rush and their ability to get into the backfield in 2007, but there is plenty of room for the defense to improve. A player with Crable's nose for the backfield would be an asset.

Crable admitted Michigan's defensive calls helped him make those plays.

"Pretty much, and we had a couple of good calls in there," Crable said. "I think my teammates did well in closing gaps and things like that. I think that contributed to a lot of it.''

All of his moving around at Michigan gave Crable the chance to try on different positions, but he admitted that he didn't feel as if he perfected any of them. He feels certain that once he's drafted, the team that takes him will have a place for him — just one place for him — so he can learn.

Until then, Crable will still have questions to answer.

"Yeah, I have a lot (to prove)," Crable said. "I've got to read coverages and prove how smart I am and things like that. The biggest thing is people seeing me playing a lot of defensive end and rushing a lot so I see where their concerns come from. I think I can do it.''

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.

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