Crichton overwhelmed with opportunity ahead

Scott Crichton entered the NFL draft early because he wanted to support his family as quickly as possible. He will get that chance while trying to work into the defensive line rotation with the Vikings.

A lot of players leave the college game for the NFL due in large part to being advised that they would be a first- or second-round pick. Vikings defensive end Scott Crichton, selected with the first of their two third-round picks, wasn't one of those players.

He isn't coming to the NFL because he felt he would be an early selection – he didn't even seek a grade by the NFL Advisory Committee. He came out after his junior season because he wants to help support his family. His parents, Lucky and Malama, both came to Washington from Western Samoa. Both his parents work, his mother working two jobs as a nurse and his father working in a warehouse – no small achievement considering that he had a leg removed due to medical issues.

When it came to deciding whether to go back to Oregon State for his senior season, there was no choice. It was time to take care of his family and help them live more comfortably.

"It was just crazy right now – full of emotion," Crichton said. "My mom and dad are crying and everything and I'm teary-eyed myself. It was just full of emotion. A lot of joy, too, because this is a big step for me. I just can't wait to be in Minnesota right now.

"My heart was beating," Crichton said. "My hands were shaking. This is unbelievable. I'm truly blessed. I just want to thank Zimmer, the whole coaching and then the whole staff for giving me this opportunity. I'm truly blessed."

It wasn't a move made without merit. Crichton accomplished virtually everything he needed to prove at Oregon State. He started 38 of 39 career games, registering 165 tackles, 51 tackles for a loss, 22.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. While much of the focus of the college game is centered on the SEC, he believes his conference has been disrespected and plays at just as high a level, as evidenced by the Vikings taking both of their top two defensive picks from the Pac 12.

"I think the Pac 12 is so underrated, especially as defenses," Crichton said. "Me and Anthony, we're just going to try to create havoc, create sacks. We're just going to do what we do."

In his prospect file, he is listed as both a defensive end and linebacker, but, at 6-3, 273 pounds, he is likely going to be locked in as a defensive end in the Vikings system with some ability to move inside, too. Some draft analysts have compared Crichton to Brian Robison and, in Mike Zimmer's defense, he is looking forward to taking advantage of his strengths – his initial upfield burst.

"My pass rush (is my strength)," Crichton said. "That's how I was best utilized. I get off the edge and then I go inside. That was my thing; I love to get after the quarterback."

Crichton didn't ask for an evaluation of his draft grade prior to declaring for the draft because it wasn't an option and his family strongly supported the decision. However, he did hope that he would go a little higher than he did with the 72nd pick of the draft.

"I was thinking second round mainly," Crichton said of his anticipation landing spot in the draft. "But, the third round is fine. I'm just grateful for this opportunity and also what I can do on the field and show teams that they should have picked me earlier."

Crichton made it clear that it didn't matter where he was drafted. All he was looking for was an opportunity. He gets that with the Vikings and can't wait to get his first taste of Coach Zim's aggressive style of defense.

"I can't wait," Crichton said. "Can't say how excited I am. I can't wait to get in Minnesota."

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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