After coming in with a strong sophomore campaign, Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton came in with a good amount of excitement around his junior year. After being using at not only end but a situational rush tackle, Crichton became a fulltime defensive end and got better with his quickness and speed, but at the expense of his leverage and power. The tradeoff basically ended up with the exact same season in terms of production for Crichton, so he went from an incomplete power end to an incomplete speed end, which was beneficial for the Beavers but still has questions for the NFL.
Crichton has shown he can play two different types of the defensive end position in the NFL and if he can combine the skills he displayed in each of the last two seasons, he can be a frighteningly effective player. He improved his hands and his quickness to win at the point of attack but was not as effective when it came to winning with power and being a better run defender. Crichton should go in the top 75 as a base end and if the team that gets him can make him that complete player, he can be great player for a long time at the next level.
Vitals & Build
Crichton is listed at 6’3” 265lbs 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 to have improved this year and he just keeps coming at a high level for the vast majority of snaps. Crichton still seems to have a good amount of potential but much of it would be best used on becoming a more natural bender and getting consistent leverage.
Snap Anticipation & First Step
Crichton has gotten better with his ability to anticipate the snap and fire off of the ball. He is able to make explosive movements to attack his opponent or work up the field. The problem for Crichton is that he stands up too much when he comes out of his stance. As a result, he is an easier target to hit, his momentum is going up too much rather than forward and he has a great deal of trouble taking advantage of his strength and power. In spite of so much of his momentum going up and standing up so tall, Crichton is still able to win with speed which is a nod to his quickness and burst off of the edge. If he can come out lower, he could be extremely dangerous.
Crichton has a wide array of moves at his disposal that he can use to get past opponents. Last year, Crichton’s bull rush was an extremely effective move for him and one that enabled him to win often. This year, he has consistently come out of his stance and it has made him have far more trouble accessing his power.
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. Crichton can use his hands to keep opponents out of his body and work their way around him.
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. He has gotten so much more effective with his technical moves that rely on quickness but needs to recapture his ability to bull rush to be a complete threat. Essentially, if he can combine the better use of leverage from his sophomore year while maintaining the moves he has refined as a junior, he is a big time player.
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.
Crichton has some trouble being a run defender because of his pad level. It is not a lack of effort and he keeps working to get to the ball carrier, but he can have trouble holding up against linemen and can be stalemated by tight ends too often.
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.
The other area Crichton needs to significantly improve is how he looks for the ball when he gets into the backfield. There are far too many examples where he does not see the ball and ends up chasing the wrong player. Some of this might be helped if he did a better job of turning at heel’s depth in the backfield, find the ball and then make the play.
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. In spite of not taking advantage of power this season, Crichton has been able to completely fool opponents because he can use so many moves with quickness, both inside and up the field.
He does not have the ability to bend around the edge terribly well, but he is able to win up the field and get around blockers. Crichton has shown the explosiveness to win on the outside but needs to do a better job when it comes to bending his body to run the arc.
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.
Crichton’s game could be similar to that of Brian Robison of the Minnesota Vikings. Robison took a couple years as he was the understudy behind some talented defensive ends like Jared Allen and waited his turn, but got better and better with each year, making the most of his opportunities. He has the same type of skillset that Crichton has where he can be a good run defender and pass rusher, but like Crichton, Robison had to put it all together in the NFL.
Scott Crichton has shown everything he needs to be an effective defensive end in the NFL. The problem was those parts have been scattered over the past two years where he was two almost completely different players; completely different but effective in different ways. The key for Crichton is finding a way to get the best out of both players from the past two years and becoming the complete end he has shown he has the ability to be. Crichton projects as a top 75 pick but could go earlier if a team thinks they can make that adjustment quickly and he could end up being a great player and soon.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com