It is no secret that the New York Jets need to improve their pass rush. With no help coming through free agency, the Jets will have to look to the 2012 NFL Draft for help. One player that might be able to have an immediate impact is Nebraska DE Jared Crick.
Crick is a big man at 6-5, 280 pounds with the ability to play inside or outside on the defensive line. He has an excellent motor and will play until the whistle blows and is a leader that leads by example on and off the field. He is exactly the type of player the Jets will need in the clubhouse after last season’s turbulence.
On the field, Crick is an adequate pass rusher who drives blockers back. He has a very good interior first step and can penetrate the line at times from the inside. As a 3-4 DE he should be able to hold his own against tackles or guards in the NFL. He doesn’t have very good change of direction once he gets in the backfield and will struggle against more mobile quarterbacks. However, that isn’t something the Jets have to worry about in the AFC East. Crick has large hands that he uses well, getting an excellent punch on offensive linemen to throw them off balance. He places his hands well and can control blockers efficiently.
Against the run, Crick does an excellent job locating the ball carrier. He can lay down ferocious hits when he is given the chance. He can hold his own at the line, giving leverage when needed and then exploding into the running back. He won’t be fast in pursuit but his 4.9 40-yard dash time at the Combine was effected by Crick’s recovering from various injuries in 2011. He is a little faster than that.
Against the pass, Crick is less effective. He relies on his motor to get to the quarterback. He just doesn’t ever give up and will keep fighting until the whistle blows. He uses excellent instincts and a high football IQ to beat offensive linemen. He will not be a consistent pass rusher but will get his sacks.
Durability is a huge concern with Crick. He tore a pectoral muscle against Ohio State last season, has tendinitis, suffered a concussion, and sprained his MCL in 2011. However, he did start all twenty-eight games his sophomore and junior seasons. Because of his injury history he could fall on draft day and the Jets might be able to use one of their middle round picks on him.
Last season, linebacker Aaron Maybin, a mid-season pick-up, led the Jets with 6 sacks. His track record is spotty and there is no guarantee he can do that again. Adding a player like Crick can impact the entire defense. He isn’t a pure pass rusher but he will find himself in the opponent’s backfield at times and cause disruptions. With the Jets secondary led by Darrelle Revis, opposing quarterbacks are going to have trouble finding open receivers. If the Jets can get similar production out of Maybin and improved production from Bart Scott and Calvin Pace in the pass rush they could see a huge improvement all along the defense. Crick will be a leader in the clubhouse based solely on his character and work ethic and is worthy of a middle round pick by the Jets who could use a player with his motor and intelligence on the line.