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Posted Feb. 17, 2009
Crabtree Not Elite
The cliche thing to do on big boards is put Michael Crabtree as the top dawg in the 2009 NFL Draft.
This is something I just could not disagree more with, and when I see the same clich? opinions everywhere, I have no problem calling it out when I do not see eye-to-eye.
Crabtree is a very good receiver. I am not saying he is not worthy of a top-10 pick; just that he has some weaknesses in his game that do not put him near Calvin Johnson's level coming out of Georgia Tech.
In fact, I gave Crabtree a 4.5-star, top-eight grade.
Now you are saying, "Stop beating around the bush, why is Crabtree not elite?"
I feel like the biggest issue surrounding Crabtree is he never ran pro routes at Texas Tech. Most of what he did was within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and a lot of his production was generated after the catch. He mainly ran screens and crossing routes at Texas Tech; rarely deep comebacks, speed outs, or deep posts. Route running, in my opinion, is so important for the wide receiver position, and therefore I do not think he is elite.
He has the capability to do it in the NFL, but he never had the opportunity to do it at Texas Tech. With those doubts, I have to drop Crabtree slightly on my big board.
Another issue with Crabtree is he struggles to separate from press man and off man coverage. He generates yards after the catch, but he does seem to lack explosion off the line of scrimmage and coming out of his breaks. This is legitimized when it was reported that Crabtree does not plan to run the 40 yard dash at the Combine.
Granted, Larry Fitzgerald and Jerry Rice have become elite NFL receivers despite 4.6 speed, but there are so many receivers that have busted who did lack this important skill. I do not think this is nearly as important as his route running, but it is a weakness nonetheless. Fitz might have had similar athleticism coming out of Pittsburgh, but he also ran elite routes. Crabtree has not.
Lastly, a somewhat famous draft analyst in Mobile told me he has spoken with Crabtree, and Crabtree does not come across as the sharpest tool in the shed. If intelligence is a concern, it will be seen in interviews at the Combine.
When a receiver does not run elite routes and has speed concerns, then it is a joke to me when people talk about him as the top player in the 2009 NFL Draft. He is very good, but let's stop it with the Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson comparisons.