Player Profile: Jared Crick DT Nebraska

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One of the top defensive linemen coming into this college season was Nebraska’s Jared Crick. Crick was coming off back-to-back seasons with at least 70 tackles and 9 sacks. Jared was off to a solid start this season with 22 tackles through five games played, but the sacks had begun to drop off. I am not too worried about the drop in production as Crick was gaining much more popularity; he was facing more double teams. However, Crick recently suffered a setback, which will impact his draft stock over the next 7 months.

As one of the steadiest producers on the defensive line, most were expecting a solid season from Crick and to be drafted in the middle to late first round in 2012. All of these expectations have been on hold recently though as Crick has suffered a season ending injury (torn pectoral).  This is a devastating injury for the Cornhuskers and Crick, as a solid senior season would have cemented him in the first round. Crick will now begin to face some harsh questions as scouts rely on his sophomore and junior year tape to evaluate his pro potential. One of the biggest knocks on Crick will be his lack of elite speed. Crick is not a Justin Tuck, with the ability to slide comfortably tackle to defensive end in a 4-3. Crick will need to rely on his size and consistent production to keep him in the first or second round of April’s draft.

Crick has good size at 6’6”, 285 pounds, and is sure to have an impact in the NFL. Personally I was very excited to see how Crick produced this season and am very let down by this season ending injury. Crick had impressive numbers but still seemed to be lacking an elite burst or push that would make him an impact first round pick. There is no doubt in my mind that Crick can be a starter in the NFL for the next 5-7 years but I have concerns about how big of a role he will play. Watching tape from Crick’s 2010 film and early 2011 games, it was clear that Crick was still improving. This is a big plus for Crick, as he will need to prove to teams that his abilities are still on the rise.

One of the biggest knocks on Crick is his lack of elite speed and push. On tape you can clearly see that Crick is not Ndamukong Suh or Haloti Nata. Crick is not blowing blockers out of his way or blowing up the offensive line. While Crick can get a decent push against solid talent at the college level, I have doubts about his abilities to perform against NFL guards and tackles. Crick has a nasty habit of being in position to make a play but missing the tackle by just a fraction of a second. Crick also tends to be knocked out of too many plays, and I believe that habit might continue against stronger blockers.

At this point it is unclear where Crick will be drafted because we are not completely aware of the impact of this injury. Crick will need to take his physical rehab very seriously as he will undergo a series of medical evaluations at the NFL combine. With all that said, I believe Crick has the work ethic and drive to get himself back into shape and be ready to impress scouts at the Senior Bowl. The Senior Bowl will likely be the single strongest variable for Crick as it will be the closest to real tape that scouts and coaches will see before the draft.

Because of the lack of elite speed and push, Crick may have a future as a 3-4 defensive end. Rather than being asked to rush the passer, Crick may be able to make a career out of setting the edge for faster outside linebackers. The 3-4 is growing in popularity and Crick reminds me of a former Cornhusker, Adam Carriker. Carriker was a first round pick by the St. Louis Rams, but never panned out as the elite prospect they hoped for. The Redskins traded for Carriker and transformed him into a 3-4 defensive end, and he looks to have a made a home for himself there. I believe that Crick is a late first round early second pick at this point, but if drafted into the right system, could be a vital piece to a teams defensive line.