2015 NFL Scouting Combine Watch List: Defensive Linemen (Part 2)

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Jan 3, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller (left) is hit by Clemson Tigers defensive back Bashaud Breeland (17) as defensive end Corey Crawford (93) tries to catch the ball that is intercepted by Tigers linebacker by Spencer Shuey (not pictured) in the fourth quarter of the 2014 Orange Bowl college football game at Sun Life Stadium. The Tigers won 40-35. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Crawford, Clemson

Clemson’s Corey Crawford has spent the last couple seasons playing on the opposite side of the defense from the highly-touted Vic Beasley, who though not in my list is another defensive line prospect the Raiders will likely take a look at. Crawford is not nearly as good an athlete as Beasley, but at 6’5″ and 270 pounds has a great combination of size and length that NFL decision-makers love.

Unfortunately for Crawford, there’s not a whole lot to love on tape: like Beasley, Crawford has a tendency to get stonewalled by single blockers, including by tight ends and fullbacks in the run game. Unlike Beasley, Crawford does not possess pure speed that could translate to him consistently beating opponents by just running around and past them.

Crawford has a lot of physical tools but on tape doesn’t tend to apply them, and his draft stock is not very high as a result: he is projected by various analysts as anywhere from a 4th to a 7th rounder. But at that late point, he is undoubtedly one of the top athletes that will be available, and may be worth a grab, especially if he can show well in a few drills:

1. Broad Jump: Crawford has not shown the ability to be explosive at Clemson, often getting driven off his spot by smaller players. If he can show a strong broad jump number, this will signal to coaches that Crawford has the physical tools to correct this deficiency, with the proper coaching. A great athlete with correctable problems but good raw physical ability is a steal in the later rounds of the draft.

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  • 2. 4-Bag Drill: The 4-bag drill will show a lot of things that Crawford has struggled with on tape: quick feet, moving with a low center of gravity, and fluid change-of-direction. Crawford has a tendency to play tall, and at 6’5″ this means that nearly an opposing player can easily get underneath his pad level and get leverage on him.

    If Crawford can go into this drill and show that he can keep his body low while continuing to move quickly and fluidly through the drill, it may convince somebody that he can learn to keep his body low in game, which could clean up many of his issues altogether.

    3. Linebacker Drills: Crawford, who was used on occasion as a stand-up pass-rusher at Clemson, may want to do like Dante Fowler and perform in the linebacker position drills, as teams might be considering using him here. While he has the size and body type to be a hand-in-the-ground 7-tech or even 5-tech defensive end, he also possesses the athletic ability and balance to be a useful 3-4 rush linebacker, a player who can come in on passing downs and stand up and get after the passer but can still show at least some basic ability as a second-level run and cover defender.