Could Tyrone Crawford Be The Pressure Five The Cowboys Have Been Missing?

The Cowboys need better line penetration, and Tyrone Crawford could be the perfect answer.

Right after the Combine, we looked at the defensive linemen available in the 2012 draft in a post titled Making Sense Of The Numbers For Defensive Linemen. In that post, I wrote:

If you're looking for guys that might be flying under the radar right now, check out Derek Wolfe, Tyrone Crawford and Mike Martin.

At the time of writing, CBSSports had Wolfe ranked as a sixth rounder (199th), Crawford as a fourth rounder (114th) and Martin as a borderline third rounder (96th). All three were picked a lot higher yesterday. Derek Wolfe was picked 36th by the Broncos, the Cowboys took Crawford with the 81st pick, and Martin went one spot later as the 82nd pick to the Titans.


Related: Defensive End Tyrone Crawford, A Review From Someone Who Watched His Games

After the break, we take a closer look at why Tyrone Crawford was turning heads long before many Cowboys fans had heard of him, and why I am very excited by this pick.

When teams look at a prospect, one of the first things they look at is whether the player meets the physical prototype expected from the position. Bill Parcells explained the rationale for this quite succinctly recently on ESPN: For every position, there is a certain combination of physical measurables that has proven successful in the NFL, and deviating from this success model doesn't have high chances of success.

Those measurables, outlined by Gil Brandt last year, are summarized in the table below. This is what NFL teams are looking for at the position:

Drill Significance Def. Tackles Crawford
40-yard dash Speed over distance 5.15 4.89
225-pound bench press reps Upper body strength 26 28
Vertical jump Explosiveness, leg strength 30 33
Broad jump Explosiveness, leg strength 8-9 9-5
20-yard shuttle Flexibility, burst, balance 4.55 4.44
3-cone drill Agility, change of direction 7.75 7.09

Brandt's measurements are targets for positions in a 4-3 defense. 3-4 DEs, the position Crawford will play for the Cowboys, are best compared to defensive tackles in a 4-3.

Tyrone Crawford 'posses prototypical NFL athletic ability and speed on the perfect frame' as the NFL Draft Advisory Board writes, and the table above shows why: Crawford beats every single target measurable. In this year's draft class, there are only three additional players who met all six target measurables, the above-mentioned Wolfe and Martin, as well as Kendall Reyes, who went 49th to the Chargers.

But what is perhaps even more impressive is Crawford's production while at Boise State. Crawford was a JUCO transfer to Boise State, and only played two seasons for the Broncos. Here are his career numbers:

Tyrone Crawford College Career Stats
Year Games Tackles TFL Sacks
2010 13
32
13.5
7
2011 12
44
13.5
6.5
TOTAL 25
76
27
13.5

One of the better stats for measuring the playmaking potential of front seven players coming out of college is the Production Ratio. The Ratio adds up the number of Sacks and TFLs and divides the sum by the number of games played. What you want in a Production Ratio is a score of 1.0 or better. Effectively, a score of 1.0 says that a player recorded one splash play in the defensive backfield per game.The higher the number, the better.

Tyrone Crawford has a production ratio of 1.62, the highest number of any defensive lineman in this year's draft class.

Now let's look at some other performance metrics.

1. Explosion Number: This is a simple addition that adds up the number of bench press reps with the broad and vertical jump values. What this number gives you is an idea of the explosive strength of a lineman. An explosion number over 70 is considered a very good result, and Crawford passes this test with a value of 70.5

2. Lateral Agility: This number uses the differential between the 40-yard dash time and the 20-yard shuttle to get a better feel for the lateral agility of a player, as the differential provides information beyond simple long speed and short-area quickness. Generally speaking, a player who notches a .50 or better is considered to have outstanding lateral agility. With a 40 of 4.89 and a 20 of 4.44, Crawford has a 0.45 lateral agility value, just shy of the 0.50 benchmark but still a very good value for a player who'll need lots of agility in the very tight spaces along the defensive line.

3. Speed Score: The speed score multiplies a player's weight by 200, and then divides that number by his 40 time, taken to the fourth power. This may sound weird, but is actually quite simple. The multiplications give each measurement roughly equal weight. In other words, it tells you how fast a guy is for his size. The higher the resulting number, the better the combination of size and speed in a player.

At the Combine, with 275 lbs and a forty time of 4.89, Crawford scored a 96 on the speed score. At his Pro Day, Crawford improved his 40 time to 4.78 while weighing in at 282, which gives him a speed score of 108, the fourth best score among all defensive linemen. For his size, Crawford is exceptionally fast, and as Wes Bunting writes, "he turns speed into power very well as a pass rusher and should contribute early on in Dallas."

The Pressure Five

I am very excited by Tyrone Crawford. I have long been advocating, perhaps even whining for, an improved pass rush from the defensive end position. I had hoped that such a player would come to the Cowboys in the first round, with the potential to be an immediate starter.

Crawford may not be an immediate starter, but he could potentially give the Cowboys something they have been missing for a long time: a Pressure Five.

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The Cowboys 3-4 defense uses three down linemen. Typically all three of the defensive linemen line up directly across from the C and the two OTs. The role of the NT in the middle is tie up the center and one of the guards on every play and control the two "A" gaps. The DEs often line up on the outside shoulder of the offensive tackles (hence the name "Five Technique") and are tasked with clogging up the B and C gaps on their side of the line in an effort to deny the RB a hole to run through.

Traditionally, the 3-4 DEs have been big-bodied, 300+ pound players whose primary focus has been on stopping the run and keeping multiple blockers tied up so that they cannot release upfield to take on a LB or DB. Often, this role meant the DE's in a 3-4 were not the players who made the most tackles or sacks, and have been derisively called "run-stuffers". But that has been changing of late.

Arizona's Calais Campbell, San Francisco's Justin Smith and Houston's rookie sensation J.J. Watt combined for 23 sacks, 34 QB hits and 102 QB pressures last year, and demonstrated just how disruptive a pass rushing five techique - or Pressure Five - can be.

Keep in mind that in a 3-4, you are basically pressuring a five-man offensive line with just three defensive linemen. And you're already asking them to take on two guys at a time, stop the run and keep blockers from releasing upfield. And you now want them to rush the passer as well? It takes a very special kind of player who can do all of that.

That is why Pressure Fives are so hard to come by. And you simply cannot pass them up if you get the opportunity to get one.

On paper, Tyrone Crawford has everything he needs to become that Pressure Five: a track record of production, prototypical athleticism and an abundance of performance metrics needed to be successful at the position. And as Brandon notes in his review of Crawford, he has everything the Cowboys are looking for in a player, aggressiveness, work ethic and character.

The Cowboys need better line penetration, end of discussion. And Crawford may just be the player the Cowboys needed. He'll certainly get his shot this season, as coach Garrett explained:

"We are really excited to have Tyrone," coach Jason Garrett said. "We like his potential and the motor in which he plays. He is a high-energy guy. The vision we have for him as an early-down rush guy and then grow into a first- and second-down player at the five technique."

I fully endorse this pick.
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