After a shift to the inside, Windsor-born defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford has become a big part of the Cowboys future plans.
The subtle shift in position – from the end of the defensive line to an interior position the Cowboys call “Three Technique”, came partway through the 2014 season. Crawford thrived almost immediately, and finished the season second on the team in quarterback pressures (29).
“I joked throughout the season that Tyrone Crawford was about six steps away from a Pro Bowl campaign,” wrote Cowboys.com ‘s David Helman in a recent post. “He finished with just three sacks on the year, but he was oh-so-close to about five or six more. For a guy we were considering at defensive end for so long, it took almost no time for him to establish himself in the middle of that line.”
“Crawford’s performance at the three-technique is huge for the Cowboys financially, because it gives them some flexibility with Henry Melton,” added Helman. “The younger, cheaper Crawford was the more consistent, and it sounds far more appealing to start Crawford and his $675,000 salary over Melton and the $8 million option it would cost to bring him back. This isn’t to say the Cowboys don’t need pass rush help, as Rod Marinelli loves to work his guys in rotation. But it’s a credit to Crawford that he entered his third season as an unknown and will enter his fourth season as the favorite to start. If he builds on this past season, I expect big stats and a bigger payday for Crawford when we’re having this conversation in 2016.”
Bryan Broaddus, a Football Analyst and Scout with the Cowboys, also offered the following assessment of perhaps the most talented Canadian in the league:
The bottom line was that they (Cowboys coaches) knew that they needed to find a spot somewhere along the line because there was just too much talent there not to provide him that opportunity. There were also the questions about his health and how would he bounce back after sitting out the entire season with an Achilles injury. Initially Crawford worked as an end while the team was going through OTAs and minicamps, but eventually we started to hear the whispers that he would be making a move inside — not as the nose but as the under-tackle or three-technique, which was surprising unto itself. What appeared to be an awkward fit actually was a stroke of genius by Rod Marinelli and the staff. Everyone believed that Henry Melton as going to be the starter, but that never really was the case. By putting Crawford at the three and going with that, it allowed Melton more time to heal from his own injury and it strengthened the Cowboys’ run defense by pairing Crawford with Nick Hayden in front of Rolando McClain. With those three on the field, opponents had a difficult time when it came to moving the ball on the ground. The move also allowed Crawford to move closer to the quarterback instead of having him rush off the edge, where his lack of pass rush moves put him at a disadvantage. Crawford proved that by lining him up over the guards he could use his initial quickness and power to battle blockers that were not accustomed to dealing with that. The results for Crawford were immediate and for a player who never really had a home, he was the most consistent piece to a defense that played well above what most people were willing to give them credit for before the season started.
Crawford attended Catholic Central High School in Windsor Ontario. The three sport athlete (football, basketball and track and field) went on to a successful collegiate career at Boise State before being selected in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cowboys.