The Dallas Cowboys haven’t been in Oxnard, Calif. long enough to adjust to the magical temperatures that feel like Heaven compared to the scorching heat in Texas. However, 2012 third-round draft pick Tyrone Crawford is already turning heads, although it’s just the beginning of training camp.
Scouts and media members who are in Oxnard for the duration of camp have been writing, talking and tweeting about Crawford this week. The things they’re saying are exactly what the Cowboys’ coaching staff said they liked about Crawford coming out of Boise State.
Crawford is very quick off the line at the snap of the ball. He explodes out of his stance and shows superb quickness getting upfield, causing problems for the offensive player trying to block him. This quickness is great, but it’s Crawford’s arsenal of pass-rushing moves that has really impressed everyone so far in training camp.
Such assets are beyond a necessity for a Cowboys team that was awful up front defensively last season. Starting defensive ends Jason Hatcher and Kenyon Coleman were two of the weakest links on defense, which caused a chain reaction of events throughout the defense that resulted in the worst defensive performance by any Cowboys team in history over the course of a season. So it’s safe to say the Cowboys are thrilled with what they see in Crawford thus far.
Crawford’s display of his abilities undoubtedly has the wheels turning in Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan‘s unique mind. Initially, most folks thought Crawford would be used in special four down linemen sets in Ryan’s variable 3-4 scheme, but now it appears Crawford might earn some serious playing time in the regular set. One thing is for sure: if he keeps up the impressive pace he’s on, Coleman will be out of a job by mid-August.
It’s way too early for season expectation changes due to one player, but Crawford’s fast start isn’t the only good thing going on. He’s a pure pass-rusher, arguably the only one on Dallas’ roster besides DeMarcus Ware. However, Dallas had trouble with its outside linebackers defending the pass last year. To fix this, Ryan and company drafted Kyle Wilber, a pass-coverage specialist at outside linebacker. With Wilber putting an end to the slew of opposing running backs catching passes in the flats and Crawford providing a refreshingly effective pass rush, Dallas’ defense might not be bad in 2012. In fact, it might be pretty good.