The Minnesota Vikings are in the process of completely revamping their defense. This process began with the hiring of new head coach and defensive mastermind Mike Zimmer. In Zimmer’s defensive scheme, elite defensive line play is absolutely crucial to the success of the team. With the departure of Jared Allen and Kevin Williams, the Vikings needed to add more depth to their defensive line. In order to address this, the Vikings drafted former Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton with the 72nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
In his three years as a starter at Oregon State, Crichton was highly productive. He recorded 165 total tackles, which included 51 tackles for loss. Of the 51 tackles for loss, 22.5 were recorded as sacks. Crichton also showed playmaking ability with nine pass defenses and 10 forced fumbles during his college tenure.
Crichton has an interesting skill set. While he is a little undersized for a NFL defensive end, he is powerful and agile coming off the edge. Crichton is excellent in run support and a relentless pass rusher. Also, in terms of intangibles, Crichton is a leader, has great instincts and a high motor that few possess.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, Crichton has not been able to attend OTAs to this point due the NFL rule prohibiting college players from participating in team activities until after their college semester is over. However, Zimmer has flown out to see Crichton on multiple occasions and has been in touch with him in order to make sure he is understanding the playbook and the role he would like for him to play with the team.
While Crichton’s role in the new-look Vikings defense is unknown at this point, chances are that he will see plenty of time on the field. Defensive ends Brian Robison and Everson Griffen are entrenched as the Vikings’ starting defensive ends, but that does not mean Crichton will not have an opportunity to play. Griffen has experienced issues with stamina in the past, which should give Crichton a chance to be on the field quite a bit during his rookie season. Crichton will also compete with the newly acquired Corey Wooton for playing time but likely not for the same role in the Vikings’ defense due to dissimilar skill sets between the two defensive players.
Given that Crichton has not been able to practice with the team to this point and that the Vikings have all but said that Robison and Griffen are the starters, Crichton will likely begin his career in a rotational role. However, Zimmer has stated that he will play the player he believes is the best at each position so Crichton will have a chance to take playing time away from Robison and Griffen if the two struggle early.
Crichton likely will not have a huge impact on the Vikings defense this season, but given Robison’s advanced age by NFL standards, Crichton could become a starter on the Viking defense sooner rather than later.