Scott Crichton may be a bit of a surprise pick for the Vikings, who have a bevy of defensive ends and not that much at corner—perhaps perceiving corner value later in the draft.
Crichton is an underrated defensive end that is probably a top fifty talent that not many have been talking about. Any scouting report on Crichton almost invariably begins with a conversation about his motor. I've seen the word "relentless" to describe him dozens of times, it seems.
The former Beaver plays with a ton of power and balance, generating that power not just through his legs but in the upper body as well. He has a very good understanding of leverage and can use his long arms to his advantage. He has a fantastic first step, but more importantly does an extremely good job of converting that speed to power. He has played everywhere on the line of scrimmage and at 273 pounds, probably will see time in nickel packages as a pass rusher to give relief to players like Shariff Floyd and Linval Joseph on the inside.
Crichton is a polished player who knows a variety of pass-rushing moves and combines speed and power moves and countermoves not just to win at the LOS on the first few plays of the game, but at critical moments later in the game.
He does need to develop those tertiary moves and set players up, but for the most part is savvy and has excellent technique and hand placement.
The big concern for him is edge flexibility, though his combine scores imply that his flexibility is far better than he has shown on film. His speed rushing could use some work in this capacity and the original understanding before the combine and workout period was that this wasn't an opportunity for him to pursue a pass-rushing advantage, but he could potentially learn to expand his reportoire if this is something that can be integrated into onfield performance.
When playing on the inside, he has drawn double teams and has had some pretty impressive showings when he hadn't been doubled. The dude is extremely strong.
Like Wootton, expect him to be a player that kicks inside often in a NASCAR-type pass-rushing package.
But more than anything else, he's relentless.
Interestingly, Crichton was the second-highest player—after Louis Nix—on the consensus draft board.
What does this mean?
Don't expect this to mean much in terms of Everson Griffen or Brian Robison. Barring injury, they should each grab 750-800 snaps, but that leaves about 500 snaps on the outside and 500 on the inside (after Floyd and Joseph) that need to be accounted for when rotating the defensive line.
Crichton fits the mold of a run-first defender with size and power that can really stall a team attempting a draw play or quarterback scramble. Keeping the rush lanes closed up and inhibited will make clogging the run easy and should make for an easier time for the linebackers. Crichton is EXTREMELY strong at the point of attack and pushes around five-star offensive linemen with regularity.
That doesn't mean he's bad at pass-rushing—he's earned 22.5 sacks in his career with Oregon State—but he clearly fits the Zimmer mold of defensive linemen like Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap. Finding defensive ends who regularly drive offensive linemen like that around the edge is rare, and it's clear that Johnson was a player model here.
I don't see this as meaning something interesting in terms of hybridity. Crichton is best fit in a one-gap scheme, and a hands-down defensive end in a 4-3 is his best spot. Primarily he provides depth and can add an additional 300-500 snaps of effective play over players like Chase Baker, Spencer Nealy, Fred Evans and Tom Johnson. And it may mean they no longer have Justin Trattou, former Giants practice-squad player, as their fourth DE.
Also, expect the Vikings to target Rashaad Reynolds, CB from Oregon State later in the draft simply because of the school pairings Spielman loves to have.
Should the Vikings have selected a cornerback instead? I would have preferred it, and Pierre Desir would have been my option. I'm not happy with the pick, but I'm not upset with it either because they got great value for what was left on the board. I'm an unapologetic "needs" drafter, and I understand why people disagree with me. Should they grab some underrated CBs later (Antone Exum? Terrance Mitchell? Bene Benikwere? Marcus Williams? Who knows).