Michael Johnson. Carlos Dunlap. Geno Atkins.
All are second day NFL Draft picks under Mike Zimmer, with the first three already acting as the foundation for one of the best defenses in the NFL. Can Scott Crichton help the Vikings build what Zimmer had in Cincinnati? Check out Crichton’s rookie preview to find out!
Scott Crichton, DE – Oregon State
Taken in 3rd Round, 72nd overall by Vikings
Age: 22; Height: 6-2; Weight: 273
40 Yard Dash: 4.85; Bench: 24; Broad Jump: 9’; Short Shuttle: 4.29; 3-Cone Drill: 7.19
2011 Stats (12 games, 12 starts) – 74 tackles, 14.5 TFL; 6 sacks; 6 forced fumbles
2012 Stats (13 games, 12 starts) – 44 tackles, 17.5 TFL; 9 sacks; 1 forced fumble
2013 Stats (13 games, 13 starts) – 47 tackles, 19 TFL; 7.5 sacks; 3 forced fumbles
*Note: Scouting information primarily from Dane Brugler of CBS Sports
A productive three year starter in the Pac-12, Crichton is not the athletic freak some of the other Vikings draftees are, but he makes up for it with his polish.
Crichton has excellent first step quickness off the line, and is able to beat blockers with his active hands. His body control is very developed for a young player; he moves naturally on the field.
Crichton is a polished run stuffer, as evidenced by his productivity behind the line of scrimmage in college. With Mike Zimmer’s defensive scheme primarily tasking lineman with stuffing the run and occupying blockers, Crichton could be stepping into a great situation for his skill set.
One thing Spielman cited specifically with Crichton is his motor. Crichton was known in college for staying active through the whistle and finishing plays, which is partly what led to his school record 10 forced fumbles in college.
Crichton also bring potential versatility to the Vikings defense, as like Everson Griffen he has the ability to rush the passer from the defensive tackle position as well as defensive end.
Crichton still has work to do to increase his repertoire of pass rush moves, especially since he is not an elite athlete. Crichton will need to make sure to keep up his technique to continue to beat more athletic NFL lineman.
Spot on the Depth Chart:
Crichton should start training camp lower on the defensive line depth chart, but by the end of training camp he should work his way into the team’s third defensive end role.
With Mike Zimmer’s propensity to rotate his defensive lineman, Crichton should have a very large role on the defense early, both as a run stuffer and a pass rusher.
With Crichton’s versatility to play both inside and outside on the defensive line, he should be used in a variety of situations early on to spell Griffen, Robison and even Linval Joseph on pass rushing downs. It would not be surprising at all to see Crichton approach or surpass 500 snaps on defense his rookie season.
While being the third defensive end on the depth chart doesn’t sound like a great spot to be in, in Mike Zimmer’s defense it actually means plenty of playing time.
Odds of Making Roster: Lock
Crichton should be seeing snaps right away in the defensive line rotation. His roster spot is not in any doubt.
Rookie Season Predictions:
A good rookie season comparison for Crichton might be Michael Johnson, who Crichton was compared to as a prospect. The two make a solid comparison because they both have the same man in charge of their defense during their rookie year: Mike Zimmer.
In his rookie season, Johnson had 17 tackles, three sacks and five passes defensed. While these don’t seem like gaudy statistics, defensive lineman under Zimmer are mainly asked to occupy blockers and let the linebackers finish the plays.
With Crichton’s ability as a run stuffer, it would not be a shock to see him exceed Johnson’s tackle numbers, but if he can match Johnson’s initial production Crichton is going to make Rick Spielman look pretty smart.