Player: Michael Crabtree
School: Texas Tech
Position: Wide Receiver
Why He Fits: Most people will agree that Michael Crabtree is the best wide receiver available in this draft, regardless of character or injury concerns. He is the most physically talented receiver, and enters the NFL Draft as a redshirt sophomore after catching 231 balls for 3,127 yards and 41 touchdowns in only two seasons at Texas Tech.
Crabtree is a physical runner, capable of making big plays in the open field. He has big, soft hands and knows how to get open. When the ball is in the air, Crabtree is great at shielding defenders and making the play. Similar to Larry Fitzgerald, Crabtree will attack the football and take it away from opposing players. He possesses very good ball skills, and plays strong and physical.
Unfortunately, Michael Crabtree was unable to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine or at Texas Tech’s Pro Day, but the film speaks volumes about his ability. He plays faster than his timed speed and can out jump most defenders. He has great vision and instincts, and always seems to find his way into the end zone. Crabtree, whose wingspan is 34¼ inches, enjoys physical prowess over defenders and plays much bigger than advertised.
If Crabtree falls past the Chiefs, Seattle may want to consider taking the playmaker from Texas Tech. Although he is only a sophomore, his statistics through only two seasons are unbelievable. Not to mention he played in the Big 12, and played well against great competition.
Although the Seahawks brought in T.J. Houshmandzadeh and have a lot of money invested in wide receivers, they still lack a true playmaker. If Crabtree is as good as most people think, he will be able to come in and hopefully develop into a productive receiver. After last season, any additional depth and durability at wide receiver is welcome.
Why He Doesn’t: Crabtree may have posted incredible numbers in Texas Tech’s pass-happy offense, but he is no sure thing in the NFL. He lacks top-end vertical speed and never had to run pro-style routes in college.
Regardless of talent, Crabtree seems like the type of player who Tim Ruskell prefers NOT to draft. He declared early after only two productive seasons, may not be as durable as previously thought (currently recovering from a stress fracture in his left foot), and his character and work ethic are questionable.
Crabtree may become the next wide receiver in the NFL who expects special treatment from everyone around him, and will probably not be very humble in the locker room, even as a rookie. He seems to lack maturity, and it will be interesting to see how he reacts to a big payday.
Many observers compared Crabtree to Larry Fitzgerald early on, but this is quite far from reality. Crabtree, who was originally listed at 6-3, measures up at a measly 6-1⅜. Although he believes he can run a 4.4 40-yard dash when healthy, Crabtree hasn’t proven his ability to run faster than a 4.5. He is not as strong or as physical as Fitzgerald, and his drive and work ethic is questionable at best. In an organization where work ethic and character are extremely valued, Crabtree doesn’t seem like a good match.
Bottom Line: Crabtree has proven that he can dominate competition, as evident by his statistics and awards achieved in college. He was a great receiver for Texas Tech and is an extremely competitive player. Although his stock was once sky-high, it has recently taken a hit after the foot injury was revealed and his true height was a little shorter than listed. Crabtree’s value may now lie outside of the top five, and might not be a realistic possibility with the Seahawks at number four.
Crabtree would look great in Seahawks blue, especially if he proves the skeptics wrong and becomes the next great receiver. But after analyzing all of Tim Ruskell’s tendencies, it doesn’t look like the Seahawks will take a chance on the Texas Tech product. He isn’t a Ruskell-type player, and I’m not sure Ruskell is willing to sacrifice his ego and select him.
If the Seahawks are looking for a playmaker with their first pick, Crabtree definitely fits the bill. His questionable character and work ethic, however, may cause Ruskell to look elsewhere, and could result in Crabtree never achieving his true potential at the next level.