Seahawks | Texas Tech's Crabtree measures up in talent for draft
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree was measured two inches shorter than the 6 feet 3 he was listed at Texas Tech, but at 215 pounds, he has load of talent that the Seahawks and other NFL teams are considering in this year's NFL draft.
Seattle Times staff reporter
INDIANAPOLIS — That's Michael Crabtree?
Oh. Thought he'd be taller.
He was listed at 6 feet 3 as a sophomore receiver at Texas Tech last season. Turns out he measured 6 feet 1 at the NFL's scouting combine Friday.
But the man is still 215 pounds and he still casts a large shadow over the NFL draft. He is one of the biggest prospects available this year, regarded as the top receiver. Missouri speedster Jeremy Maclin is considered No. 2.
As a football player, Crabtree is so talented he received Big Ten scholarship offers to play quarterback. As an athlete, he's good enough that Bobby Knight recruited him to play basketball at Texas Tech. But as a receiver it always comes down to the hands, and Crabtree's were sure enough that he was named the top college receiver the past two seasons.
How much faith the Seahawks place in those hands will be one of the biggest questions between now and April 25, when Seattle uses its fourth overall pick.
No position is more desperately needed in Seattle than a game-changing wide receiver, but no position has been more unpredictable in the draft's first round. The Detroit Lions drafted four different receivers in the top 10 from 2003 to 2007. Only one of those four is still with the Lions, and two are out of the league entirely.
Former Lions general manager Matt Millen doesn't possess a patent on dropping the ball at that position. Troy Williamson, the seventh overall pick in 2005, demonstrated repeated difficulties catching the ball for Minnesota so the Vikings returned the favor and dropped him to Jacksonville.
Remember Reidel Anthony? Well, Seahawks president Tim Ruskell sure does. Anthony was a receiver out of Florida whom the Bucs chose in the first round in 1997, when Ruskell was Tampa Bay's director of college scouting. Anthony caught more than 35 passes once in five NFL seasons.
For every home-run pick like Larry Fitzgerald, drafted third overall in 2004, there is a whiff like Charles Rogers, chosen No. 2 in 2003. Why have those receivers chosen in the first round turned out to be such hit-or-miss propositions in the NFL?
"The physical nature that confronts you at the line of scrimmage that you have to get by," said Brad Childress, Minnesota's coach. "Whether it's the holding, the grabbing, the things that you don't see maybe in college football, I think that's probably No. 1."
There isn't any specific prototype for receivers. Not like some other positions. A left tackle needs a certain amount of size, quarterbacks need to have arm strength, and cornerbacks have clear specs when it comes to speed.
Wide receivers are more a matter of alchemy.
"They come in all shapes and sizes, let's face it," said Thomas Dimitrioff, the Atlanta GM. "You get a football player out there at the receiver position who can run, stop, start, adjust, has skills to catch around his body and ad-lib."
Oh, is that all?
"You look at players who can get downfield, who can separate," Dimitrioff said. "That's a big thing."
The Seahawks have a need for just that kind of playmaker. Their offense is changing. The system that Mike Holmgren ran so well for 10 years demanded precision at receiver more than playmaking.
Things could open up a little more now. The Seahawks' most athletic receiver, Nate Burleson, is coming back from a torn knee ligament, an injury that often takes two years to return to 100 percent.
So is Crabtree the answer?
The only knock has been his speed. Crabtree doesn't plan on running the 40-yard dash at the combine this weekend. He's still recovering from an ankle injury. He estimated he's about 90 or 95 percent, and expects to be completely ready in about three weeks.
But then it's not the feet that make the wide receiver, and at the end of April the Seahawks will show how much faith they put in his hands.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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