With mock drafts currently listing the Seattle Seahawks drafting Michael Crabtree, I decided to try and roundup some more information on him. And who better to talk to but Michael Irvin, a friend of the Crabtree family and one of the people advising the redshirt sophomore as he prepares for the upcoming April draft.
Crabtree, who recently announced he’s entering this year’s draft, is working out with Olympic champion sprinter Michael Johnson and receiving advice from Irvin and Deion Sanders as he prepares for the combine and his pro day. Crabtree will not run the 40-yard dash at the combine, but will run at his Pro Day.
Even after the gaudy numbers and spectacular plays Crabtree has put together over his college career, and his two Fred Biletnikoff awards as the best college in the country, there are still lingering questions about the talented receiver.
Is he fast enough?
Is he injury prone?
Is he a system player?
Irvin addressed some of those issues in a conversation I had with him during Super Bowl week.
"I think he’s going to be a phenomenal player in this league, but he has to fall into the right system," Irvin said. "You cannot put a big guy like Crabtree in a system that caters to small receivers, what I call a scat system. You have to put him in a system where his size and strength can be used to his advantage.
"This is what confuses me a lot of times. When you talk about players and where they would play and how would they perform, people tend to think that you can take any player and play him anywhere, if he’s a true player. But true success comes when you put a player in a system that fits his talent. And his talent, he’s a big guy. So put him in a timing offense. Let him run some out routes, timing routes. Get the ball in his hands and let these DBs fall off of him because he’s such a big, strong runner. He reminds me a lot of Anquan Boldin. And I love Boldin. He’s a beast. And so is Crabtree.
"In this game now, when you’ve got a guy who can run like that, go and get the ball and you can’t touch him after five yards anymore? Oh God, that’s advantage offense all the way right there."
Not necessarily a burner himself, but now in the Hall of Fame and considered one of the best receivers to play the game, Irvin said the speed question should be considered in a larger, overall perspective.
Irvin talked about game speed, and maintaining speed over the course of the game. He said some guys are running 4.4 40-yard dashes at the beginning of the game, but their speed decreases through the course of the contest and they’re slower in the fourth quarter. Irvin believes that Crabtree has the kind of endurance and strength to maintain his speed throughout the game, and that he makes plays with the game on the line in the fourth quarter.
"The difference between a 4.7 and a 4.5 (is this)," Irvin said, quickly snapping his fingers twice. "You can barely get it on your hands if you pressed your thumb and pressed it again. … And we discount game speed, and we discount strength.
"I don’t just want to know your speed in the first quarter. I want to know your speed in the fourth quarter because I’m not winning any games in the first quarter. This guy, Michael Crabtree has fourth quarter speed."
He also said Crabtree would be a good fit in the West Coast offense because of his ability to run after the catch, and compared Crabtree’s running ability to Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens, who both played in the West Coast offense in San Francisco. Irvin joked that he wished he would have had a chance to play in the West Coast offense, but couldn’t look back with too much disappointment because he has three Super Bowl rings.
"That system fits," Irvin said. "That’s a timing system that allows him to put the ball in his hands as early as you can and let him go do what he can do with it. And you know he has some RAC ability — some run after catch. So for him, that’s a great system."
Irvin talked about the reality TV show he’ll host, which pits six receivers against six defensive backs for a chance to earn a spot on the Dallas Cowboys’ 80-man training camp roster.
Listen to the full conversation with Irvin here.