Cowboys' Crawford 1-On-1 On A 'Breakout Year'

OXNARD - The praise is already rolling in for Cowboys D-lineman Tyrone Crawford, who even before camp began had his head in the right place. 'I've already started studying the 49ers," Crawford told CowboysHQ, 'as well as the other teams we're going to face. I can't speak for the rest of the team, but I've been studying a lot of tape.'

Tyrone Crawford tells CowboysHQ in an exclusive interview that he expects fans to see the defensive line "getting to the quarterback" a lot more in 2014.

What he's too humble to say is that he believes he's going to be a driving force in the upgrade ... and the Cowboys truly believe that even though at camp starts, he doesn't even line up with the first team.

"Rod Marinelli has been working us hard," said Crawford, who is off to a solid in Oxnard with duty at multiple positions. "I've been seeing improvement every day. This defense as a whole has been grinding. I feel like we're working together as a whole unit."

While Cowboys fans certainly hope to see improved play from this 32nd-ranked defense, a lot of people within the organization believe that Crawford could go a long way in making that happen.

The expectations for Crawford this season may be as high as any other player on this team this side of Dez and Tyron. Tony Romo told 105.3 The Fan back in May that Crawford would be "shocking a lot of people" in 2014. "I think he's the guy that stands out to me as the first guy that's going to be very, very difficult to deal with for offenses."

Cowboys defensive end George Selvie also foresees Crawford having a big year. At a charity even earlier this summer, Selvie told CowboysHQ that "Crawford will come back strong" and can have a "breakout year under Marinelli." (Which is something that Selvie has a lot of experience with.)

Coach Jason Garrett also praised the defensive lineman, telling reporters, "Ever since he got here he's taken advantage of his opportunities in any role, he over-produces."

And from Rod Marinelli: "I'm excited about him. I think he's got unique talent, movement, size, all those things."

Want one more? Former Cowboys linemate Jason Hatcher says of Crawford, "That guy's something special. He's going to be one of the great ones. He can definitely be a Hall-of-Famer. He's got the potential."


I know what many of you Dallas Cowboys fans are thinking: "That's a lot of praise for someone as unproven as Crawford." And you're right. In Tyrone's rookie year he recorded 20 tackles, failing to register a sack. Last year was to be a breakout under Monte Kiffin and Marinelli. But then, on the very first day of Training Camp, the unthinkable happened.

In non-contact work, Crawford ruptured his Achilles tendon and would be out for the entire season.

It doesn't seem to bother Crawford that much is expected of him now, even without many skins on the wall. Tyrone tells CowboysHQ that he doesn't feel any extra pressure than what he already puts on himself. He also turned the attention to his teammates, saying, "I think a lot of our defensive linemen can have a big year. Melton is going to come back strong. Nick Hayden, Ben Bass, a bunch of those guys. Demarcus Lawrence has been really showing up in practice. I think a lot of our guys can have a really good season."

But not all of those guys have Tyrone's measurables, which are really among the reasons for all that praise. Let's look at his combine results compared to some of the top 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL.

Tyrone Crawford - Dallas Cowboys
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 285 lbs.
40-Yard Dash: 4.82 seconds
Bench Press Reps: 28
Vertical Jump: 33 inches
3-Cone Drill: 7.09

Michael Bennett - Seattle Seahawks
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 274 lbs.
40-Yard Dash: 5.00 seconds
Bench Press Reps: 24
Vertical Jump: 31 inches
3-Cone Drill: N/A

Jason Pierre-Paul - New York Giants
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 278 lbs.
40-Yard Dash: 4.71 seconds
Bench Press Reps: 19
Vertical Jump: 30.5 inches
3-Cone Drill: 7.18 seconds

Greg Hardy - Carolina Panthers
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 281 lbs.
40-Yard Dash: 4.82 seconds
Bench Press Reps: 22
Vertical Jump: 35 inches
3-Cone Drill: 7.25 seconds

Chandler Jones - New England Patriots
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 266 lbs.
40-Yard Dash: 4.87 seconds
Bench Press Reps: 22
Vertical Jump: 35 inches
3-Cone Drill: 7.07

Crawford clearly has all of the physical tools you look for in a defensive lineman. But Dallas is almost purposely keeping a lid on exactly what his role is. He's a rangy 285 pounds -- big enough to play inside out outside. But when Fish asks him where he's really going to line up, he treats it as a state secret.

"End, tackle, tackle and end,'' Crawford says with friendly vagueness.

Maybe Crawford doesn't need a full-time singular role. But what he does now he need is a full and healthy camp, some live-action time in preseason, and freedom to run that film room.

"I've already started studying the 49ers," Crawford tells CowboysHQ, mentioning Dallas' Week 1 opponent, "as well as the other teams we're going to face. I can't speak for the rest of the team, but I've been studying a lot of tape."

If Crawford's pace catches up with Crawford's praise, pretty soon it'll be opponents busying themselves studying film of him.

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