- Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech is rated the top sophomore among this year’s NFL draft prospects
- Many NFL draft predictions list Crabtree among the top five players overall
- Recent foot surgery has done little to lower Crabree’s status among NFL draft picks
Not many elite college football players could remain at the top of the draft charts after having foot surgery. But when Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree had a pin inserted into his left foot in March to help mend a stress fracture, draft analysts hardly blinked an eye. Many still have Crabtree listed in their top three picks.
The reason? No other receiver accomplished what Crabtree did at Texas Tech. His 231 receptions were more than any other receiver had had over a two-year period. He became the first freshman ever to win the Biletnikoff trophy, the top receiving award. He also was the first receiver ever to go 13 games with at least five receptions and one touchdown catch.
What is perhaps most remarkable about Crabtree’s accomplishments is that he was a quarterback when playing high school football in Dallas. His all-around athletic ability is demonstrated by his also having been one of Texas’s top 50 high school players—in basketball. Crabtree toyed with the idea of playing both basketball and football in college, but he decided against it while redshirting in football during his first year at Texas Tech. At a press conference at the NFL scouting combine, he said that when he had both football and basketball practices, “I got done playing football and I was too tired to even go to the court.”
Crabtree added that playing quarterback in high school helps him identify coverages as a receiver. At Texas Tech, he benefited from a pass-oriented offensive scheme. “We did a lot of routes. That’s probably an advantage over a regular receiver.” Crabtree said that one thing he needs to improve is blocking. “I’ve been working real hard on that.”
More Than Just a Burner
Although Crabtree lacks the explosive speed of a sprinter, he is a strong open-field runner who adjusts to the ball well and has good leaping ability. He shows good concentration going for the ball in traffic and has good awareness of his position relative to the sidelines. He does well on quick slants and in yardage after the catch.
One of Crabtree’s best games came against SMU in September. He had 8 catches for 164 and three touchdowns, including scoring grabs of 47 and 50 yards. Crabtree figured prominently in Tech’s epic 39-33 win over Texas later in the year, snaring a 28-yard touchdown in the closing seconds. After the game, Crabtree called it the biggest catch he had ever made. The Red Raiders capped their season with a victory over Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl, with Crabtree contributing a touchdown catch.
In addition to the stress fracture in his left foot, Crabtree sprained his ankle late in his second season. This combination of injuries led him to decide to skip workouts at the scouting combine, although he did appear for interviews. He is expected to be fully recovered from the surgery by the end of May.
We’re expecting some great things from Crabtree and look forward to him lighting up the football scoreboards.