Clemson coaches rejoiced when Corey Crawford announced in January, 2014, that he would not enter the 2014 NFL Draft and was returning to school. That jubilation was short-lived, as the staff announced in April that he was one of four Tigers that would be suspended for the 2014 season opener due to a team rules violation.
The strong-side end was coming off a season where he had 44 tackles, including 10.5 stops-for-loss. He never bounced back from the 2014 suspension, struggling as he finished the season with 27 tackles, two sacks, seven stops-for-loss and nine pressures while appearing in 11 games. Then, he further befuddled scouts by having one of the worst performances for any defensive lineman at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.
Crawford is a well-developed athlete, with a muscular upper body frame. He has a quick initial step off the line to get into the blocker and the strength needed to hold his ground at the point of attack and uses his hands effectively to shed. He displays excellent hand punch, doing a fine job of keeping the blockers off his body.
Where his problems occur is with a lack of consistency. He does not always generate a good push coming off the snap, especially when he challenges the offensive tackle head-on. While he recognizes the play developing, he is a little slow locating the ball when working inside, as he seems to want to finesse rather than combat opponents too often in 2014, unlike what he did the previous season when he played with a valid mean streak.
Crawford needs to work on redirecting quicker as he struggles at times to get off blocks (lacks counter moves) and will generally get clogged up by the larger blockers when working near the pile (more out of indifference than lack of ability). He is a solid run stuffer, but needs to hunker down more and anchor with a better base.
When he plays at a high pad level, blockers can blow him off the snap. He shows good arm reach, but does not always use it to get off the hook or disengage. He can fight through the gap, but sometimes gets too narrow with his base. When he stays lower in his pads, he is more effective splitting double teams.
As a pass rusher, Crawford can generate a good surge and burst coming off the edge, but you would like to see more acceleration, especially with the timed speed that he has. Still, when his head is in the game, he has the ability to play off the blocks decently and can be disruptive in pursuit.
The Tiger defensive end generates a good surge and burst coming off the edge. You would like to see more acceleration, especially with more urgency to close, but he plays off the blocks decently and can be disruptive in pursuit. You can see on film that he is able to read and see gap responsibilities. He should make more plays with his strength and size but does not get the explosion you’d like. There are also times in 2014 where the coaches should have openly questioned his desire, as he seemed to be going through the motions.
Corey Crawford NFL Scouting Combine measurables
6-5/283 (5.01 forty)
34 1/2-inch arm length
9 1/4-inch hands
33-inch vertical jump
110-inch broad jump
7.64 3 cone drill
4.65 20 yard shuttle
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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