When the Dallas Cowboys selected Tyrone Crawford in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, many fans of America’s Team scratched their heads because a team that ran a 3-4 defense at the time had just selected a 4-3 pass-rusher. Crawford then spent his rookie season bulking up to over 300 pounds so he could play defensive end in Rob Ryan‘s 3-4 scheme, but now Dallas is switching to the 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, and that could be all the former Boise State standout needs to break out in 2013.
Crawford has a prototypical frame for an NFL pass-rusher, so now that he’s down to his comfortable playing weight in the 280-pound range, his speed and quickness should be back to where they were (and hopefully better) in college. Plus, he’s under no pressure to set the woods on fire right now with DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer and Kyle Wilber ahead of him on the depth chart. However, Crawford is the primary depth Dallas has at this point for pass-rushing, so if either big-name player gets hurt or Spencer struggles playing end for the first time in the NFL, Crawford could be thrust into the spotlight.
But ask anyone at Valley Ranch, and they’ll tell you that everyone — including Crawford — is confident in his abilities should that situation arise.
A lot of football minds in Dallas are especially high on Crawford’s potential under new Cowboys defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, whose hiring this offseason has been widely overlooked by pretty much the entire football world, including the Dallas faithful. With Ware, Wilber and Crawford now doing only what they do best and Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher in more suitable roles as well, Marinelli could make the Cowboys’ defensive line an asset instead of a liability in 2013.
That could mean big numbers for Crawford.