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Oregon State DE Scott Crichton fits in 4-3 defense, Riley says

Rick Bowmer/Associated Press
Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton should be drafted by a 4-3 NFL team, according to Beavers coach Mike Riley.

Mike Riley has plenty of experience on both sides of the draft process as both a college and NFL coach, so he is well qualified to render an opinion on how Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks and defensive end Scott Crichton will fare at the next level.

But Riley, the former San Diego Chargers head coach now in his 13th year leading the Beavers, was quick to caution that Crichton will not fit in every system.

"He's a really good player with a lot of ability, and the right team can utilize his abilities right away," Riley told the Oregonian. "If it's a 3-4 (defensive front) team, they probably won't draft him. I don't know where he fits in with a 3-4; it'll probably be a 4-3 team with a defensive end."

Crichton has been as disruptive as any player in college football coming off the edge, totaling 36.5 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks over the past two seasons.

At 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, however, he seems to be locked in to a role as a 4-3 end. Add weight to try to make him into a 3-4 end, and Crichton could lose the quickness that has allowed him to be so effective in getting to the quarterback. And Riley presumably has a good idea of whether Crichton has the flexibility to play from a two-point stance as an outside linebacker.

Still, Riley is very high on Crichton's pro prospects.

"If it's the right fit at the right time it'll be impressive, because he's always had a high motor. The big deal for him will be the right team at the right time." Riley said.

As for Cooks, who broke the Pac-12 single-season records for receptions and receiving yards as a junior, Riley sees a player who will continue to improve in spite of the trappings of success.

"He has a great ability to stay focused and he'll be driven to get better -- he won't be distracted by the bling of the NFL," Riley said. "I don't know if he'll break in as a frontline receiver the first year, but he'll make a team and help a team and last a long time."

Cooks (5-10, 186) is elusive with the ball in his hands, but should be easier to find when NFL Media analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Gil Brandt release their initial lists of the top 50 prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft on Wednesday.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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