Pro Day Tour Prospect of Day: Crowder

Duke's record-setting Jamison Crowder is double-trouble as a slot receiver and kick returner. Considering the state of the Packers' special teams and Green Bay's offensive troubles vs. top defenses, he could be worthy of a mid-round selection. (Ivan Pierre Aguirre/USA TODAY)

Based on where the Green Bay Packers deployed their scouts, we present our Prospect of the Day, featuring career notes and a large segment of his official NFL scouting report, courtesy of the NFL’s longtime head scout and frequent Packer Report contributor Dave-Te’ Thomas.

Duke WR/Returner Jamison Crowder

CAREER NOTES

— Crowder started 40-of-52 games, including his last 40 contests, handling slot receiver chores for Duke…Recorded 283 receptions for 3,641 yards (12.87 ypc) and 23 touchdowns, picking up 135 yards with another score on 21 carries (6.43 ypc)…Returned 65 punts for 869 yards (13.37 avg) and four touchdowns, as he also ran back 44 kickoffs for 930 yards (21.14 avg)…Amassed 5,412 all-purpose yards, an average of 104.08 yards per game.

— Among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision players, Crowder leads the group with 869 yards as a punt returner, ranking second with four touchdowns, fourth with a 13.37-yard average and seventh with 65 punt returns…His 5,412 all-purpose yards rank third among active players, as he also placed third with 283 catches and fifth with 3,641 yards receiving.

— Crowder’s 283 receptions tied the school and ACC record set by Conner Vernon (2009-12)…His 3,641 receiving yards are third-best in ACC annals, behind Vernon (3,749) and Rashad Greene of Florida State (3,830; 2011-14)…Finished fifth in conference history with 5,412 all-purpose yards (most in ACC annals by a receiver).

— Crowder’s 1,360 receiving yards in 2013 rank sixth on the league list, becoming only the seventh player in league history to total 1,300 yards receiving at that time (FSU’s Rashad Greene joined that group with 1,365 yards in 2014)…His 108 receptions in 2013 set the ACC record, topping Sammy Watkins (101 in 2013)…His 85 receptions in 2014 tied Dwight Jones of North Carolina (2011), Vernon (2012) and Pittsburgh’s Tyler Boyd (2013) for eighth place on the conference reception chart.

— The Senior Bowl participant was a consensus All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team selection as both a wide receiver and punt returner…Starting every game at slot receiver, Crowder was the winner of the College Football Performance Awards Elite Punt Returner Trophy. The accolade goes to the player deemed to have contributed the greatest team success on punt returns over the last two seasons of college football…Led the team, as he caught 85-of-143 targeted passes (59.44%) for 1,044 yards (12.28 ypc), the third-straight season he gained at least 1,000 yards receiving, as he also registered six touchdowns…Returned 22 punts for 280 yards (12.73 avg) and two touchdowns, adding 26 yards on one kickoff return...He closed out his career by reaching into his “bag of tricks” vs. Arizona State in the Sun Bowl, as he threw a 12-yard touchdown pass on a trick play, took over the second spot on the school career-record chart by recording his 16th 100-yard receiving performance (102 yards on seven catches) and also posted a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown late in the second quarter.

INJURY REPORT

No major injuries reported.

SCOUTING COMBINE

Height: 5-foot-8 3/8. Weight: 185 pounds.

4.56 in the 40-yard dash…1.70 10-yard dash…2.71 20-yard dash…4.32 20-yard shuttle…7.17 three-cone drill…37-inch vertical jump…9’-07” broad jump…235-pound bench press/405-pound squat…Bench pressed 225 pounds ten times…30 3/8--inch arm length…8 3/4-inch hands…72 5/8-inch wingspan.

SCOUTING PERSPECIVE

Crowder is the classic case that big things come in small packages. With Anthony Boone handling QB duties, Crowder soon became the passer’s favorite target, especially after the slot receiver returned for 2014 as the only player among the BCS conference schools to have back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons (1,074 yards on 76 catches in 2012/1,360 on 108 grabs in 2013). He led the team with 85 more receptions, good for 1,004 yards and six touchdowns in 2014, scoring twice on 22 punt returns for 260 yards.

Crowder has a small frame with marginal muscle development, thin hips, small lower-leg structure and minimal room to add additional bulk without having it affect his speed. He compensates for a lack of size and bulk with very quick feet, excellent in-stride balance, very loose hips to generate stop-and-go action that makes the initial tackler miss and the body control to make adjustments to haul in the off-target throws. He shows very good flexibility on the move and has the timed speed and good movement ability to take the ball long distances.

Unless Crowder gets a clean release off the snap, he can be defeated by the physical press. He has shorter than ideal arms (30 3/8-inch arms/72 5/8-inch wingspan) to extend and push off the defender and lacks the strength (10 reps at 225-pound bench press) to out-muscle the opponent. If he is left isolated wide, he can immediately challenge the deep secondary, but will be a liability trying to combat the bump-and-run.

While Crowder has a fearless nature going over the middle, he is too small and frail to combat for the ball in traffic. He is best utilized on deep routes, where he can ride up and eat the cushion with his explosion, but will get taken down by the initial tackle due to strength issues. On long routes, he can track and catch the ball with ease. He has the burst to stretch the defense and uses his loose hips and change of direction agility to turn up field quickly on screens and sideline routes.

Crowder is a dangerous route runner, especially when he gets a clean release off the snap. He has natural playing speed and good explosion to separate after the catch. He is agile and elusive racing past the second level and has the suddenness in his plant-and-drive to explode in and out of his breaks. Once he accelerates past the line of scrimmage, he can get into a cornerback’s cushion in an instant.

Crowder shows very good quickness in and out of his cuts, but tends to take soft angles in his routes. He is able to separate well, but needs to be taught how to be cleaner in his breaks and crisper in his route progression (tends to drift). He will never be able to power through tackles, but has the loose hips and stop-and-go action to make second-level defenders miss. He has the quickness and awareness to separate underneath and the second gear to stretch the defense. He is much better when used vertically, as he doesn’t have the size to go horizontal across the field.

The thing you see on film is Crowder’s balance and body control running with the ball. He is beginning to realize that he is too small to operate over the middle of the field, but when he is isolated along the sidelines, he is more comfortable extending for the off-target throws (doesn’t have to worry about the defenders closing on him). He has the leaping ability to make plays in the air and shows the loose hip flexibility to plant-and-drive coming out of his breaks.

Crowder has very good timing and leaping ability, but because of size issues, he will struggle to compete for jump balls. He had 20 passes deflected against him in the last two years and needs to be utilized catching the ball in stride rather than having to leap and extend for the catch.

When working underneath, Crowder excels at opening his hips and generating a burst to quickly elude linebackers and safeties. He is a very dangerous open-field runner whose quick feet and change of direction agility lets him separate after the catch. Once a defender gets a piece of his jersey, the battle is quickly over, though, as he lacks the power and leg drive to break tackles. He will go down from the initial hit, but if given room to operate, he has the hip shake and suddenness to accelerate and take the ball long distances.

Crowder is not going to scare any defender as a blocker and will struggle vs. strong press coverage, but if given room to operate, he has the loose hips, explosion and change-of-direction agility to be a dangerous open-field runner. He is one of the finest punt returners in this draft class and he could make a very nice living on special teams at the next level. He is not as fast as Davin Hester, but like former Bills’ Roscoe Parrish, he needs to be accounted for anytime he touches the ball, as he has proven to be effective on reverses, deep routes and also displays a strong arm for the option pass.


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