Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Prospect of the Night: Michael Crabtree

by: Chris Sullivan

The buzz of the day surrounded Michael Crabtree. Strangely enough, Crabtree started off as just about the top prospect for the Seahawks to take with almost everyone pegging him coming to the Hawks three months ago. Since signing Houshmandzadeh, that idea lost a lot of traction but it seems like there's quite a bit of buzz building around Crabtree again. A lot of you love him, a lot of you loathe him; let's break it down and argue some more:

Where do we start? Crabtree has excellent hands, a great wingspan, and incredible body control. He has great hops and is very tough running after the catch. He knows how to skirt the sidelines just right and has the strength to win a dogfight for a ball in mid-air. Ruskell values production above all else and there's no possible way to argue against that with Crabtree. He looks like just about the only true #1 receiver in this draft.

He is the first ever two-time Biletnikoff Award winner as well as being the first to ever win the award as a Freshman. The only other Sophomores to have come away with the award are Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Moss, and Antonio Bryant -- not bad company to be in. Crabtree also has many of the intangibles that we admire in a guy like Larry Fitzgerald. He knows how to catch the ball when he has to catch the ball, and he knows how to make the play of his life when that is needed.

This video might explain his strengths better than words, though:

Well, this is where everyone disagrees. It's no secret that Crabtree does not have incredible timed speed (well, it is something of a secret since he hasn't been able to run the 40). He says he can run a 4.4 40 with crutches and, well, he's wrong. He can probably run in the 4.5x range, which is fine. Everyone has focused on his speed. Larry Fitzgerald ran a 4.63 forty -- still freaking out? Okay, let's move on then.

There are two considerable weaknesses I see when looking at Crabtree. The first, and less important, is his immaturity. That's not to say that he's a little wiener necessarily, just that he acts his age: 21. How many 21 year olds could be told they are the best person in the country (two years running) at their job without getting a fat head? He is generally a nice kid though, despite him not giving the most polished interviews. People can badmouth him for his ego all they want, but one year playing against NFL cornerbacks should shut him up in that regard. On a scale of 1-10, I'd give this weakness a 3.

The second, and more substantial weakness in my eyes, is that Crabtree was in a very non-pro offense at Texas Tech. He does not have a lot of familiarity running NFL routes and it will be a learning experience for him. This plays into his ego situation a bit, in that it does not appear he's been tested much as far as learning goes. While he scored fine (but not great) on the Wonderlic exam, it really is a different sort of IQ that goes into learning and implementing route running and the like.

Is Crabtree a Ruskell guy? That's the real question. He's not a four-year starter, but he played for a "big school" in one of the real NCAA conferences. He's done nothing but produce, produce, produce. Is he a high character guy? That may end up being the deciding factor and, wow, I just really don't know. Those who dislike him are quick to point out that his roommate sold cocaine out of their room or something. However, if you were the star of the football team, what's to say you would ever be home? Practice, practice, practice; on the road, on the road, on the road; etc. I never knew anything my roommates were doing.

Probability of the Seahawks drafting Michael Crabtree? 40%. That's, uh, pretty high. ~END~