The latest visit to the South Side facility on Monday was made by Oregon State standout defensive end Scott Crichton. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been seeking players to bolster their defense, and Crichton’s visit indicates more than just a casual look at another college player.
While Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina) and Kony Ealy (Missouri) have been garnering most of the attention as pass rushers, Crichton has slowly been inching higher on the prospects board as the 2014 NFL Draft approaches. Most scouts feel Crichton would benefit more in a 4-3 offsense, but while he played with the Beavers, he was moved up and down the defensive line. Against the Oregon Ducks, Crichton played nose tackle to contain an explosive Duck offense.
Crichton became a focal point for every offensive coach that opposed him, setting up double team blocking schemes. Despite those efforts, Crichton was able to record 7.5 sacks during the 2013 season, earning Second Team All-Pac 12 honors. In 2012, Crichton had a career-high nine sacks.
What makes Crichton such a promising prospect is his impressive ability to burst off of the snap and good speed. When looking for the next step-up player, teams typically want a mature college athlete that is ready to go in the NFL as soon as possible. Crichton appears to have that capability. In three years with Oregon State, Crichton recorded 165 total tackles (51 for a loss) and 22.5 sacks.
Defensive wizard Dick LeBeau may be interested in Crichton’s off-the-edge ability as Jason Worilds enters his last contract year. Crichton is well built and able to time snaps in able to quickly get off the ball. With great core strength, Crichton has illustrated both a bull-rush ability but also the power to anchor against the run. His agility to keep sideline plays from getting downfield is also a plus.
NFLDraftScout.com compared Crichton to Brian Robison of the Minnesota Vikings. They pointed out that his build doesn’t show physical flexibility, but that Crichton uses anticipation and initial bursts to get the job done.
Frank Cooney of The Sports Xchange listed Crichton at 42 in the Top 64 Prospects in his 2014 NFL Draft Scout Pre-Combine report. Cooney said of the 6 foot 3, 265 pound Crichton, “Take-charge team player who leads verbally and by example. He started 37 of the 38 games in which he played for [the] Beavers…Has good core strength, decent leverage, powerful hands and should be a DLE in an NFL 4-3 setup.”
There is enough interest in Crichton’s play that he will be visiting with the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets next, according to this Twitter post:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 14, 2014
Crichton is expected to be a possible second- to third-round selection, making him a solid target should the Steelers opt to go cornerback and wide receiver in the early part of the draft. Selecting him may come down to what the Steelers saw from the young man on Monday and whether they believe he can move from a 4-3 defensive scheme to the Steelers’ 3-4.