A defensive tackle at Nebraska, Crick shows value not only in his ability to be effective playing inside but also as a potential defensive end, particularly in a 3-4 scheme. The two-time all-conference selection has displayed enough football acumen, especially in his junior year without the help of Suh, to still hear his name called early in the draft.
Crick moved inside as he grew during his redshirt season, and played in eight games (making two tackles) during the 2008 season. Playing next to All-American Ndamukong Suh in 2009 really opened the floodgates, as the second-team All-Big 12 honoree racked up 15.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, four pass break-ups, and 16 quarterback hurries (including a school-record five sacks against Baylor). As a junior, he received his own All-American accolades by producing (17 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 10 QBH) despite the departure of Suh to the NFL.
Though Crick played inside as a three-technique on most plays for the Cornhuskers, it seems his best fit would be as a 3-4 end at the next level. There he could use his height, strength at the point of attack, and intelligent play to eat blocks and provide some interior pressure without worrying about beating NFL tackles off the edge. Comparisons to Aaron Smith will be heard regularly during the draft process--and are quite accurate.
Pass Rush: Not an elite pass rusher but quarterbacks always need to identify his location if they want to stay healthy. Sacks come with relentless effort, not initial quickness and varied pass rush moves. Does swim over leaning guards to get into the backfield. Works towards the quarterback throughout the play, closes to the passer quickly for his size. Defeats cut blocks, jumps over blockers to chase down the ball. Uses his height and long arms to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage. Lines up outside the tackle in three-man front at times, lacks get-off to beat NFL tackles there.
Run Defense: Assignment-sure run defender. Holds up his man with extended arms, stays with the block down the line and sheds in either direction to grab the running back. Anchors with lean and leverage to hold the line. Good hustle to chase backs down on stretch plays. Fights through double teams, will split them to get to the ball. Very aware of mobile quarterbacks, stays in front of them and does not overextend himself.
Explosion: Though a really tough assignment, he gets his production with effort and hands and not an elite first step. Does not bull rush his blocker into the backfield with a strong punch, either. Could be a nose/under tackle 'tweener for 4-3 teams due to a lack of explosiveness off the snap.
Strength: One of the toughest players in the class to move whether one-on-one or double-teamed. Very strong hands to rip off blocks. Despite his height, Crick gets good lean into the blocker and maintains the line. Does not generally get push into the backfield, however, most guards can anchor against him.
Tackling: Secure tackler with closing speed and fair change of direction ability for his height and frame. Breaks down to wrap up in space, strong upper-body to keep ballcarriers from getting away once latched on. Sniffs out screens, agile enough to chase down back to negate the play. Chases plays to the sideline or downfield. Will leave his feet to wrap.
Intangibles: Lunch-pail worker on and off the field who is becoming a more vocal leader as he matures. Wore sleeve on his right elbow in 2010. Missed spring 2011 practice with knee injury. Could have left for the NFL after junior season, but decided to return to win a Big 12 title and graduate."
However, his initial movement off the line is upright and exposes a lot of his frame into contact. Fails to consistently gain leverage at the point and can be overwhelmed/washed out when run at.
When trying to anchor at times will lunge into opponents off the snap, try to anchor his feet into the ground and gets straight legged, failing to disengage quickly and ends up on the ground too often. Uses his long arms well and displays some shiftiness for his size to slip off the snap and/or down the field.
Works hard to play the piano down the line and has a motor that runs non-stop. However, struggles to consistently fend off blocks when a defender gets his hands on him. Looks better suited to play as a base DE or 5-technique in a 34 at the next level where he can set the edge and use his length to play off blocks.
Is a hard-working pass rusher who again struggles with his pad level off the ball. Exhibits some intriguing short area/lateral quickness for his size and uses his length well to keep himself clean. Doesn't exhibit a real impressive pass rushing arsenal and fails to consistently win as a bull rusher.
However, possesses a good first step off the snap and does a great job keeping opponents from getting their hands on him. Consistently is able to knock opponents' punch away and has some savvy pulling the rug out from blockers and using his quickness to get up the field.
Gets upright though when closing on the ball and will struggle to break down because of his pad level. Nevertheless, creates pressure because he can keep himself clean and works until the whistle.
Impression: Isn't a guy who can hold up vs. the run inside in the NFL and isn't a dynamic pass rusher either. However, as a five-technique DE I can see him finding a home with some versatility on 3rd down."
Good eyes and instincts to locate.
Fights pressure, extends with press strength and coordinates active hands and feet to stack and shed or rip under blocks.
Solid in-line, wrap tackler, though he is a bit straight-linish and tight-hipped and struggles to break down.
Won't pressurize the edges (foot speed is just average) and plays with inconsistent pad level — bullied by double-teams.
Lacks desirable length and needs to get stronger, particularly in his lower body.
Has terrific, albeit inflated, sack production and projects best as a defensive end in an aggressive, one-gapping 3-4 scheme or as a 4-3 base end."
Crick has to rely on his quickness because he's not the strongest tackle and if he gets beat has some trouble off the line. While he may not be the strongest defensive tackle, he plays with good technique and leverage.
Crick may not have top athleticism or an array of moves, but he's good at getting after the passer. Had 10.5 sacks in 2009 alongside Ndamukong Suh. his 9.5 sacks last season was more impressive, though.
Crick rarely saw double blockers in 2009 and Five of his sacks came against Baylor. Last season he was given much more attention and remained productive.
Bold Statement: Crick will be the best five-technique defensive end in the 2012 NFL Draft but not a top 20 player like some expect.
Games Viewed: Washington (2010, twice), Texas ('10), Missouri ('10), Texas A&M ('10), Oklahoma ('10), Baylor (2009), Virginia Tech ('09), Missouri ('09), Oklahoma ('09)
• Has optimum length for an interior defensive lineman and knows how to use it.
• Crick started his career at Nebraska as a 250-pound defensive end and struggled some getting his weight up. Teams that run a 4-3 may have a hard considering Crick due to his size and strength limitations.
• Considers himself a speed player. As a 4-3 tackle or 3-4 end, Crick's speed would be considered exemplary. He's not fast enough, though, to be considered a 4-3 end prospect.
• A good hustle player who has to rely on getting into blockers before they get to him.
• Has issues anchoring in the run game and will get overpowered by bigger guards. Doesn't have great shedding ability.
• Works down the line to find and attack the weak spot in the offense.
• Crick is good at shooting gaps and is a good pursuit tackle who gets after the ball."
Disruptive interior pass rusher had 9.5 sacks in each of the past couple of seasons; tall player with long arms can also disrupt passing lanes; uses length and hands well to gain leverage; works hard and will chase down plays; also has good quickness and closing speed for a DT;
However, is somewhat undersized for an NFL DT and isn’t all that strong and struggles at times to hold the point of attack especially when double teamed; also tends to play too high at times and while he has good straight-ahead speed is some limited athletically and doesn’t change direction all that fluidly; also has had problems with a knee in the past."
Plays with good leverage and technique, excellent length, good arm extension, strong hands, keeps blockers away from his frame, can disrupt passing lanes... Sets the edge reasonably well, uses his length to play off blocks; above average gap discipline, knows his assignments and sticks with them, doesn't take himself out of plays...
High football IQ, very instinctive with a lot of experience, isn't often fooled by screens, locates the ball quickly; plays with a good motor, lunch-pail type player, works until the whistle, hustles to make plays in pursuit, can make plays outside the tackles, solid wrap-up tackler...
Mature, good character, has volunteered on team hospital visits, a World War II Veteran's visit, and as a speaker to elementary school visits...
Offers some schematic versatility, has been used in multiple roles, can move around for a defense and wear multiple hats in the NFL, is one of the top 3-4 DE (5-technique) prospects in this draft, projects best to a one-gap 3-4 defense...
I wanted to see him replicate his numbers after benefitting from double teams commanded by Ndamukong Suh in '09 and he didn't disappoint; had back-to-back 9.5 sack seasons as a sophomore and junior.
Negatives -- A bit of a straight-line athlete, lacks fluidity and doesn't change direction very well, tight in the hips, can struggle to redirect to put himself in position to make a play, often over-pursues... Isn't much of a threat to rush the passer from the outside, doesn't have much of an arsenal of pass rushing moves, applies pressure through hustle...
Isn't the strongest player, has some trouble disengaging from blocks, can get stood up or pushed around like a rag doll, isn't a natural stack and shed type player, needs to get stronger in his lower body; doesn't have a real position in a four-man front, won't be able to play defensive tackle due to less than ideal size and lack of strength...
Doesn't anchor very well, struggles to hold the point of attack, can be washed right out of the play by double teams, gets overpowered by larger blockers; lacks balance, on the ground too much... Gets upright at times, plays with inconsistent pad level, exposes his frame off the ball, needs to be more consistent playing low to the ground...
Very undersized to play defensive tackle at the next level, would need to add 20 pounds to fit that prototype, which seems unlikely, is a tweener at his present weight... Suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the 2011 Washington game, only played in five games as a senior, also missed 2011 spring practice with a sprained right MCL."
Crick has the size to pay anywhere along the defensive line in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. He'll need to continue to add girth to his frame to quell the doubters who question his size to play defensive tackle at the next level.
The problem is that undersized players must lean on athleticism or a certain explosion off the line to get penetration, yet Crick doesn't possess either. As a pass-rusher, he doesn't have an array of moves to get around the blocker.
Thankfully, Crick has a good motor and goes all out. He also does well against the run, maintaining gap integrity. Using better pad level would greatly improve his presence inside but since he is so tall, blockers will often get under him and push him laterally to create running lanes."
He could also succeed Suh as the Big XII’s defensive player of the year if he can approach a repeat performance of his stellar sophomore campaign. The First Team All-Big XII performer put up some monster numbers as a sophomore, adding 16 quarterback hurries to his 9.5 sacks.
However, it must be noted that the Nebraska native benefited from the double and triple teams Suh commanded, and he did accumulate more than half his sacks (five) and seven of his 15 tackles for loss in one game (versus Baylor).
His ability to get after the quarterback and wreak havok in the offensive backfield is what separates this Cornhusker from many interior defensive linemen. He has great length at 6’5” and knows how to use it, knocking down four passes and blocking one kick in his breakout season.
At 285 pounds he is clearly undersized to play defensive tackle at the next level and will need to add a good 20 to 30 pounds to fit the prototype. Crick came to Nebraska as a defensive end before kicking inside during the spring of 2008 following a red-shirt season.
Because of his length and lack of ideal bulk for an interior lineman, Crick may end up moving back to end in the NFL, ideally in a three-four alignment.
He could also end up being labeled a ‘tweener—too small to play inside, not athletic enough to play on the perimeter—but if he doesn’t skip a beat without Suh, Crick could emerge as a potential top-15 pick. - Scouting Defensive Tackles: Class of 2012
The first thing that stands out about Crick is his length. At 6’5” the Cornhusker is longer than many of the top interior defensive linemen the NFL has to offer. When he steps on the field you can’t help but be impressed by his awesome penetration power, as his 9.5 sacks (15 tackles for loss) indicate.
While it is true that Ndamukong Suh drew a lot of attention away from Crick, the sophomore still had to take advantage of those opportunities. He did just that, and earned himself first team All-Big XII honors along with the Heisman Trophy finalist.
The fact is that Crick’s first-step quickness and use of leverage combined with his length made him unblockable in his own right. Nevertheless, many scouts are taking a wait and see approach right now with Crick. The primary reason is that he has undoubtedly been a huge beneficiary of the double and triple teams that Suh drew on every single play.
Now that Crick will be the one drawing those double teams many scouts are curious to see how he will hold up. Crick has elite length but his weight is sub par for his frame, particularly for someone who expects to make his living playing on the interior of the line battling against NFL linemen that regularly check in at 330-plus pounds.
At his present weight it wouldn’t be unfair to label the Big XII product a ‘tweener—too light to be a defensive tackle and too athletically limited to play end. Even if Crick returns in 2011, this coming season could be the most important of his career in terms of his development as an all-around football player.
If Crick ends up maxing out his potential he has every chance of hearing his name called in round one, possibly next April."