Dallas adds to department of defense

The Dallas Cowboys clearly are getting defensive with their third-round pick Friday night.

After bolstering the back end of the defense by signing free agents Brandon Carr and Brodney Pool and then trading up to get former LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne in the first round of the draft, the Cowboys began shoring up the front end of the defense when they selected Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford in the third round.

Crawford is a lanky player with excellent size (he measured in at the NFL Combine at 6-foot-4 and weighed in at 275 pounds). He clocked a 4.89 in the 40-yard dash and did 28 repetitions on the bench press with the NFL-standard 225 pounds. He is fairly explosive, jumping 33 inches in the vertical jump and leaping 9-5 in the standing broad jump.

Part of what is appealing about Crawford is that many believe he is just scratching the surface of what he eventually will be able to do. After two years of junior college, he played in 25 games over the past two seasons for the Broncos, collecting 76 tackles — including 27 tackles for loss — and 13.5 quarterback sacks, an impressive number for someone whose pass rush moves are not considered polished.

Crawford looks the part of the prototypical defensive end for a 3-4 defense, with long arms and huge hands, a powerful body (both upper body and in his legs) and a motor that runs non-stop. He uses his hands well when shedding blockers en route to the passer, has the reach and strength to deliver a solid blow to blockers who try to lock up on him, and shows very good closing speed. He also plays with a serious mean streak, and is expected to be able to contribute on special teams while polishing his defensive skills.

Going in the third round after just two years of Football Bowl Subdivision football, Crawford is not a finished product. Like many relatively new players, he can get caught playing too upright sometimes, at which point he can be knocked off balance and get derailed on his way to the quarterback, and he is better running forward than laterally. Not surprisingly for a guy who played just one year before junior college, he sometimes struggles with double-team blocking.

The Cowboys have shown a willingness to bring in big, athletic defensive ends whose playing experience is limited (see Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher), and Crawford falls in to that category. But he also is an impressive specimen and a high-energy athlete. If the Cowboys have the patience to let him develop and the coaches can refine his technique, Dallas might have found a third-round gem.

CowboysHQ Top Stories