As I have thought about the draft this year I have spent a lot of time thinking about Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree. His catch (if you don’t know what catch I am talking about then you don’t watch enough college football) is one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. Besides that, and all of his other highlight reel performances, there is a whole lot to make this guy compelling. He has the size and the hands to be an all-time great, but he doesn’t have the prototypical speed that receivers use to get away from corners. He comes from a system that was wildly productive, but his quarterback has been disregarded to the point of irrelevance because of the gimmicky nature of that offense. The stress fracture in his foot has limited the evaluation teams have done and have created some questions and uncertainty. Despite the questions, his ridiculously impressive list of accomplishments and obvious skill have him as the top receiver on virtually every list, but there seems to be decreasing confidence in the security of his position on top as time progresses – Jeremy Maclin is rocketing up many lists.
Crabtree is a test of the faith scouts have in numbers and measurables. He doesn’t have elite speed. He doesn’t get off the line as quickly as he should. He didn’t participate at the Combine and his injury has limited his ability to do anything since. If he were anyone else then these situations would drop him down the board like lead. This guy is different, though – you could show video of him playing to someone who knows nothing about football and they would know he was special. Crabtree might not have the measurables to be elite, but he seems to be one of the few truly elite players in the class.
There are two other college receivers that come to mind when I think of Crabtree – not necessarily because of style of play, but because they were ball magnets who never met a ball they couldn’t catch. One was Larry Fitzgerald, and the other wasUSC’s Mike Williams. Both seemed like absolute sure things coming out of college. Fitzgerald was, and Williams was one of the biggest busts in recent draft history. That’s all part of whyCrabtree is so intriguing, too. I have loved watching Crabtree , and I expect to be watching his heroics on Sunday for years to come, but we never know how it will work out. I’m an optimist on this front, though.