The consensus on Oakland Raiders fifth-round defensive end Jack Crawford has been that he's a project -- after all, he did not begin playing football until he was a junior in high school, after moving from London to the United States. But that didn't stop coach Dennis Allen from predicting that the rookie will contribute in a major way in 2012.
"He's big, athletic, runs really well," Allen told Paul Gutierrez of CSN Bay Area. "And he's had some production, and so again we look for versatility in guys and we try to find roles for specific guys and I think as you look at him, as we get a chance to work with him, I think we're going to be able to define a pretty good role for him."
In a 49-game career at Penn State, Crawford produced 14 sacks; most of that production (12 of his 14 sacks) came in his sophomore and senior seasons. The book on Crawford is that he lacks creativity as a pass-rusher, and will need to hone his technique and add more moves to his repertoire. The same could probably be said of a lot of pass-rushers entering the league, though.
And the potential is certainly there for Crawford, who is indeed big (6-foot-5 and 274 pounds, with 33 1/2-inch arms and 10 1/4-inch hands), to do well. According to Football Outsiders' SackSEER, a model that projects five-year sack totals for incoming 4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 outside linebackers, Crawford is projected to collect 10 sacks. The same model predicts that Seattle Seahawks rookie defensive end Bruce Irvin will record 11.1 sacks over the same time period.
Gutierrez added that Crawford did not stand out during the OTAs or minicamps, but with the collective bargaining agreement limiting contact during those practices, that should not be a surprise. We'll discover more about Crawford, and other rookie edge rushers and protectors, once the pads come on in late July.