Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford.
Name: Tyrone Crawford
Position: Defensive Lineman
Experience: 2 seasons
College: Boise State
Key stat: Crawford missed the whole 2013 season, but he was originally slated to be the backup defensive end behind Anthony Spencer. He played in all 16 games his rookie year.
Contract Status: Signed through 2015.
2013 Impact: Usually when players are lost for the season due to injury as a personnel department, you try and find a replacement then move on. Will McClay and the pro staff did a nice job of bringing in George Selvie as a replacement but there still was an impact to the loss of Tyrone Crawford for the 2013 season. Crawford might be the most flexible player the Cowboys have along the defensive line and when I mean flexible, I mean his ability to play several different positions. He could play as an end or even line up as the 1 or 3. Jason Garrett spoke of this just recently from the NFL Owners Meeting this past week. So when you lose a player that has that kind of ability, it is going to affect your rotation.
After a rookie season where he was not only productive on early downs, he was starting to come into his own as an inside nickel rusher in the four man line. When the new defensive staff came on board and the switch from the 3-4 to 4-3, Crawford was set to be a backup to Anthony Spencer but it was becoming more and more clear that Spencer was not going to be ready for the season and Crawford was most likely going to have to start. Even with the questions of Spencer's health, I didn't see this as a bad option for the defense at all. Crawford as the left defense end was more than capable of handling the position with his size, power and ability to rush the passer. The feeling among the front office and coaching staff was much of the same coming out of OTA's and minicamp. But all those positive feelings about Crawford all came to a crashing halt as Crawford was being carted off the field on the first day of practice in Oxnard and along with it a valuable player.
Where He Fits: No matter who you talk with in the front office or coaching staff, the goal is to find a position for Tyrone Crawford whether that is at defensive end or tackle. I believe that his best position would to be is to play him at end on the left side moving Selvie to the right end. I could also see him sliding inside in the nickel and potentially rushing from the one technique. The hope for Crawford is that he can bounce back from the Achilles injury much like Barry Church did and have the same kind of impact that Church was able to have in the defense.
Rowan Kavner: The master plan for Crawford had to be pushed off a year after his Achilles injury at camp, which turned out to be the first of a series of defensive injuries that would plague the Cowboys' line all year. The Cowboys will need to figure out where Crawford fits best. Initially, they were going to try him out at defensive end, but he could also figure into the mix at tackle given his combination of size and speed. High hopes still surround Crawford, despite the lineman missing all of last season. The key will be finding the right fit as he works his way back from injury and competes for a starting spot on the line.