It seems like the Oregon State Beavers might as well play in Alaska because when they have talent, it seems to somehow stay hidden until late in the season and everyone is catching onto their players late. With instate rival Oregon taking so much of the spotlight and the recent run of mediocre football by their standards, the Beavers just do not get a ton of attention. This year, they have a defensive end worth knowing right out of the gate in Scott Crichton entering his junior year. With experience at end on both sides of the line and plays lined up as a 3-technique defensive tackle. Crichton had an impressive sophomore year as he had 23 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, 3 pass deflections, a forced fumble, and a blocked kick.
Early in the year, Crichton had a ton of success especially in terms of sacks where he had 8 of his 9 sacks in the first five weeks of the year while only recording one the next eight weeks of the year. Part of this had to be a case of teams shifting more attention to containing him but he also might have hit a wall in some respects.
Crichton is an intriguing player because he still has physical upside, but what makes him stand out is just how much he shows in terms of pass rush moves and finding different ways to get into the backfield and make plays. He needs to work to be more consistent and improve his stamina, but continuing to refine his moves to beat opponents as well as having his body catch up to his technical ability. Crichton enters this season as a top 100 prospect but if he can continue to work and improve and break through the wall he ran into last year, he has a chance to establish himself as a player that could go in the top 75 picks or even higher with the possibility of another season should he want to use it.
Vitals & Build
Crichton is listed at 6’3” 263lbs with an intriguing athletic skill set. Going forward, he can be incredibly explosive and make up ground quickly, but can have problems changing direction. Crichton shows good functional strength at times while in other instances, can look powerless and really overwhelmed. His motor seems pretty good but he will wear down at times as the game progresses and that is something he can work to improve to make him maintain his effectiveness. The fact that Critchton is still only going to be a junior makes his potential intriguing and it will be interesting to see how much stronger or more fluid he can become this year and going forward.
Snap Anticipation & First Step
In terms of getting off of the ball on the snap, Crichton is inconsistent. At times, he is right on and fires off quickly and with a good burst, but there are certainly times when he is about half a beat late and almost bounces out of his stance. Some of this might be due to simply being tired and trying to catch his wind.
In terms of his first step, it largely depends on how well he gets off of the ball. Crichton can show an explosive first step and it propels him to shoot gaps and put opponents at an immediate disadvantage. The times where he comes off of the ball a little bit slower, he has to work harder to make a play in general, so it really impacts his ability to be effective. If he can improve the amount of the time where he goes off of the ball violently, it will help him make far more plays.
Crichton has a wide array of moves at his disposal that he can use to get past opponents. His most effective might be his bull rush. When Crichton gets behind his pads, can lock onto an opponent and drive his legs, he can be incredibly effective at collapsing the pocket. He is able to get them off balance and get rid of them or use a push-pull move to beat them.
Crichton shows a decent swim and rip move, but he can work to get it quicker and cleaner to be more effective. He also shows a spin move that can work, but really needs a lot more work.
When opponents are able to get their hands into Crichton, they are able to flummox him and prevent him getting off of blocks. Crichton functions at his best when he is able to work half the man or he can keep his hands free. Increased strength and technical improvement should help with this, but it is something he really needs to work to improve.
Some of the success Crichton has is specifically due to the fact he has so many moves he can go to and opponents get caught by surprise at times. Only his bull rush seems to be legitimately ready for the next level right now. The fact he had so many moves at his disposal as a sophomore is impressive and if he can use the time he has to really polish a few or all of them gives him the potential to get substantially better. He can break through the wall he ran into last year and continue to produce even if teams double him.
As a run defender, Crichton has a lot of good habits that can help him be effective going forward. First and foremost, Crichton is extremely comfortable attacking inside and in many ways, seems to prefer it. He is comfortable shooting gaps and taking on guards and potentially double teams. Crichton is willing and able to use a good bull rush to collapse the pocket and play the run or the pass from there.
When Crichton gets worn down, he gets higher and plays with less explosion. As a result, he does not generate as much momentum and is not in position to make the most of his power. When that happens, the opposition is not only able to stand him up, but can drive him down the field on skates. The difference is night and day. Crichton goes from being an effective contributor on run defense to being a complete liability. Along with that, Crichton has shown trouble getting off of blocks, so when he does get caught by an opponent, he has trouble doing anything about it. In addition to working to improve his ability to shed blocks and hand usage, he should work to get down to the ground and create a pile rather than just be pushed down the field.
Crichton’s ability to use multiple moves allows him to keep opponents off balance and gives him an advantage in that part of the game. He looks extremely quick when he is lined up inside as a defensive tackle. Crichton is certainly not slow but can have trouble getting up the field and running the arc and getting around the edge.
When Crichton has an opportunity to get to the quarterback and land the sack, he has terrific closing speed in a straight line. He will use good angles to cut down opponents and it seems like he will catch some by surprise with just how quick he can move. Crichton closes distance in a hurry and can land a powerful hit on the quarterback whether they have the ball or not. He does not miss many opportunities and really does a good job making sure he closes down and makes the tackle.
Crichton is a base 4-3 end and really more suited to play as a power end than as a rush end based on what he has done so far. If he can get quicker, he can legitimately be a threat from both sides but Crichton looks like someone who would have far more success against right tackles in the NFL with his mix of strength and quickness. Crichton is able to kick inside and rush from a tackle spot if needed and that makes him an intriguing player because so many teams want a pass rushing line that can have four viable rushers in the game at the same time.
It is not out of the question that some teams could look at Crichton as a 5-technique end, but it seems like teams picking for a 4-3 team would pick him before the 3-4 teams valued him on their board.
|Sat. Aug 31||vs. Eastern Washington|
|Sat, Sept. 7||vs. Hawaii|
|Sat, Sept. 14||at Utah|
|Sat, Sept. 21||at San Diego State|
|Sat, Sept. 28||vs. Colorado|
|Sat, Oct. 12||at Washington State|
|Sat, Oct. 19||at California|
|Sat, Oct. 26||vs. Stanford|
|Fri, Nov. 1||vs. USC|
|Sat, Nov. 16||at Arizona State|
|Sat, Nov. 23||vs. Washington|
|Fri, Nov. 29||at Oregon|
Perhaps the biggest test for Crichton will be when the Beavers host Stanford. The combination of tight splits and a talented offensive line really make it difficult for a defensive lineman to get into the backfield and get pressure. The following week, Oregon State hosts USC and a pro-style offense, which will use balance to keep a player like Crichton off balance. Finally, the regular season finale in the battle for the state of Oregon will really test Crichton’s stamina and his range. The Ducks are going to play as fast as possible to take Crichton out of his rhythm and try to make him have trouble catching his breath.
Based on what he has done to this point, Crichton’s game could be similar to that of Michael Bennett, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneeers and currently the Seattle Seahawks. After taking a couple years to get accustomed to the NFL and developing, the former Texas A&M Aggie put together seasons of 4 and 9 sacks respectively. By the time Crichton is ready to go to the NFL, he could perhaps be ready to make a far quicker impact than Bennett, but he could be that type of base end who can bring pressure.
Crichton is still a work in progress, but he is a really promising and talented work in progress. His sophomore season showed how good he can be while illustrating how far he still has to go. Crichton does have pretty good physical ability combined with a good amount of moves he will use. He needs to get more consistent, work to improve his stamina, and continue to refine his technique, but he has the opportunity go from a top 100 pick and become a top 75 pick or better while still having a year of eligibility left should he want to use it.