Summary: The past three seasons saw Crichton be one of the top and most consistent pass-rushers in the Pac-12. The 2014 NFL Draft is top-heavy with pass-rushers, but after the top-three prospects of Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr, Crichton is one of the best options available. In his career, he caused a lot of havoc and commanded some extra blocking potential.
Crichton was able to force his way onto the field as a redshirt freshman and immediately began producing for the Beavers. He had six sacks, 14.5 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles and 74 tackles in 2011. A year later, Crichton was better. The sophomore turned in an impressive 2012 season with nine sacks, 17 tackles for a loss, 44 tackles and a forced fumble.
Crichton had a bit of a slow start to 2013 but the junior heated up in the second half of the year. He had sacks against good opponents like Stanford, USC, Arizona State and Boise State. Crichton didn't record a sack against Oregon, but constantly pressured Marcus Mariota and caused lots of disruption. Crichton had 47 tackles with 19 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles for the year. He was more disruptive than the numbers indicate and commanded some extra attention.
As pass-rusher Crichton is a weapon. He has a relentless motor and plays through the whistle. Crichton has good strength with natural pad level. He uses that to generate a tough bull rush as he gets underneath the pads of offensive linemen and drives them back in the pocket. Crichton has speed around the edge, and while he isn't a blazer, it complements his bull rush well. Crichton has good instincts and does a nice job of ripping the ball out to create turnovers. He also can move inside and rush from defensive tackle.
Crichton has room for improvement and upside because he really hasn't developed a good repertoire of moves yet. If Crichton can add a rip or club move, either would make him better and a more difficult assignment. Crichton also needs to improve his hand usage in getting off blocks.
In the ground game, Crichton is a solid defender. He is pretty strong and does a rather good job of holding his ground.
Crichton could fit in the NFL as a 3-4 outside linebacker or a 4-3 defensive end. The latter position would probably be a better fit. With Crichton's power, motor, quickness and instincts, he could develop into an impactful NFL pass-rusher. Crichton could go late in the first round and should go in the top half of the second round if he falls to Day 2. Sources have told WalterFootball.com that Crichton graded as a second-round pick.
Player Comparison: Justin Houston. Crichton is a unique body type, so it is hard to find a good comparison for him. Houston (6-3, 258) is a lighter and faster version, while Crichton is thicker and stronger. Houston has been an excellent pass-rusher for the Chiefs since being a third-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Crichton could end up being a good pass-rusher like Houston and should go a round higher.
NFL Matches: Cincinnati, New Orleans, Denver, Seattle, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Dallas, Chicago
There are a lot of teams that could consider Crichton in the first two rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft. The highest that he could hope to go would be toward the end of the first round. The Cincinnati Bengals may look to Crichton as a replacement for Michael Johnson.
New Orleans could use an edge rusher for Rob Ryan's defense. Crichton is flexible enough to be a rush linebacker or a 4-3 end. Ryan likes to have that variation in his scheme, so Crichton could be a good fit for the Saints.
Denver could use another defensive end and has hosted Crichton on one of the organization's 30 pre-draft visits. The Broncos have lost Elvis Dumervil, Shaun Philips and Robert Ayers over the past two offseasons. Denver could use a young edge rusher to go with DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller.
Seattle could also consider defensive end help. Chris Clemsons and Red Bryant left in free agency, while Cliff Avril isn't signed long term. Crichton could be a partner with Michael Bennett for the Seahawks.
In the second round, Jacksonville needs help all over its defense, including on the edge of the defensive line. The Jaguars have had pass-rush issues for years, and picking up Crichton would be an upgrade. Not only could he play end, but he could be the Leo linebacker in Gus Bradley's defense.
If the Falcons don't land an edge rusher with their first pick, they could easily target Crichton in Round 2. Atlanta needs some pass-rushers for Mike Nolan's defense.
Minnesota let Jared Allen walk and decided to go with its young ends, but it wouldn't hurt the Vikings to get another rotational rusher and option in case Allen isn't adequately replaced.
If Crichton gets to Dallas' second-rounder, his fall could end. The Cowboys badly need defensive line help for their Tampa 2, and Crichton could be a fit. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is partial to ends who are short, strong and quick. Crichton fits that description, so him landing in Dallas in the second round wouldn't be surprising.
The Bears signed Allen and Lamarr Houston, but the Bears could also consider Crichton. Allen is only a short-term solution, and Chicago has to improve its pass rush.