Sunday, 12 April 2009

The Crabtree character debate

The debate surrounding Michael Crabtree's supposed character concerns has had Seahawks fans talking a lot recently. Mike Mayock has Crabtree falling out of his top ten due to off the field issues, whilst Pro Football Weekly revealed this quote apparently from an unnamed NFL representative:

"If (WR) Michael Crabtree was available to us late in the first round, I’d pass on him. I’m not saying that he won’t be good, but I’m not sold on his work ethic, and coming from the offense he did, he’s going to have to work at it to make the adjustment."

This seems a little exaggerated, the quote claims Crabtree wouldn't be worth the risk in the late first round. However, when I spoke to Rob Rang about the Seahawks draft plans, he also had some concerns:

"I have some reservations about Crabtree's character and if I have some reservations, Ruskell likely does too." - Rob Rang

So what are we to read from this? Over recent weeks Crabtree has flown underneath the radar. He's been unable to work out for teams due to recovery from surgery and it seems he's been keeping his head down. Whilst we've had the glamour of the USC pro-day, the debate about who will go first overall - we've barely heard anything from the Crabtree camp. Well, aside from the possible character concerns.

The thing is, nobody is coming out to be specific as to what the concerns are. The PFW report talks about a lack of work rate, but this conflicts with other reports that suggest Crabtree is a team player with a determined attitude. He didn't coast to two Biletnikoff awards. When I contacted John McClain from the Houston Chronicle, he argued to the contrary about any work rate issues:

"Every scout and coach I talk to loves the guy because of how hard he plays. He lacks great speed but makes up for it with his size, attitude and his get-the-ball-at-all-costs ability. He's a little immature at times, probably like we were at that age, but people who know him, play with him and are around him like and respect him." - John McClain

CBS Sportsline's Clark Judge also spoke to a scout about the Texas Tech receiver:

"'Michael Crabtree,' said one pro scout, 'is a big, strong guy who can play. Plus, he's a good kid. He's had a lot of exposure in a passing offense, and he's a strong-handed guy who plays as fast as he times. He's not going to run away from you, but he has exceptional quickness. He's a big-time player who will make a good pro.'

Notice there wasn't anything in there about Crabtree as a risk. 'So then buyers shouldn't beware?' I asked.
'Absolutely not,' he said." - Clark Judge

So what are we to believe? We're hearing contrasting reports from different sources. Could this be a smoke and mirrors attempt to lower Crabtree's stock two weeks before the draft? Or are their legitimate concerns about the receivers work rate, character or anything else? Either way, as Clark Judge admits,

"If you're going to pass on Crabtree it better be for a good reason."

What do you think? Have your say by clicking the comments section below, or email


Chris (Seattle) said...

Until something concrete comes out from a credible source (I don't take much stock in one random NFL Scout's opinion), I'm not worried about Crabtree's "character/off the field issues." There's no way Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders would waste their time mentoring someone who doesn't care about football, and won't put in the effort to succeed at the NFL level. Hall of Famers don't just put time into a young prospect for fun. They value their time like anyone else. I think this is all just part of the chess match that takes place every year leading up to the draft. If there's a scout in the NFL who wouldn't take Crabtree late in the first round, I'd like to know which team he works for so I can send in an application, because there's going to be an opening soon. No pick is a guarantee to succeed, and this year seems to be lacking slam-dunk blue-chip talent (with the exception of maybe Curry), so you have to draft on potential. Crabtree has the highest ceiling of anyone in this draft in my opinion. Until someone comes out with a photo of him partying like Matt Leinhart or a mug shot a la Jerramy Stevens, I'm not buying into this character issue one bit. What do you make of all this Rob?

Rob Staton said...

I'm in complete agreement, Chris. As Clark Judge says - you better have a good reason for not drafting Michael Crabtree. I'm not sure anything I've heard so far is enough to put me off - especially if I was picking late in the first round. The PFW article merely questions his work ethic, but everything else I've read counters that. John McClain is a respectable journalist from the Houston Chronicle. If he says the scouts he's spoken to believe Crabtree is a good kid who works hard - I'm inclined to agree.

Now, if there's something else out there that isn't common knowledge, it's a different story. But we haven't heard anything, and considering how much attention the B.J. Raji supposed failed drug test received, I have to think we'd have heard something by now.

For me, if the team want an instant impact prospect in round one, Crabtree has to be the pick.

LouieLouie said...

There is a proper term for these anonymous, non-specific "charges." The term is called "slander."

Landhawk1 said...

I agree guys. I have yet to hear anything of substance that is of great concern. All unnamed sources and innuendo. The guy is going to be a stud. Hopefully it's for the Hawks.If they are really picking BPA, doesn't that equal Crabtree at #4? Crab, Housh, Branch, Burleson and Carlson would be a pretty formidable receiving corps!

When Ruskell addresses a problem, he seems to do it in two's. Safety...he brought in Russell and Grant. RB....he brought in Jones and Duckett. After the WR fiasco of last year.....Housh and Crab? Sounds good to me.

Michael said...

Detroit felt the same way about Charles Rogers.

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