Before tearing his Achilles on the first day of training camp last summer, Crawford played mostly left defensive end in organized team activities and minicamp. There were thoughts this offseason that he could move into the 3-technique spot vacated by Jason Hatcher but now owned by Melton. With Melton on board, Crawford can settle in at defensive end once again.
Crawford’s versatility is a major plus. He can play outside in running situations. He can move inside to defensive tackle in passing situations. That’s why Rod Marinelli was so intrigued by Crawford last year, but he never really got to see him in action.
Crawford played well as a rookie in 2012 in a reserve role. He did not record a sack, but the coaches saw the potential that made him a third-round draft pick and believed he was a fit in the 4-3 scheme after playing in the 3-4.
Crawford’s rehab from the torn Achilles has gone well. He was doing some resistance training by the end of the season. Barry Church tore his Achilles in the third game of the season in 2012 and was able to return for the 2013 offseason without a hitch. The sense is that Crawford will be able to do everything this offseason.
In Crawford, George Selvie and Jeremy Mincey, the Cowboys look to have more left defensive ends – better run-stoppers – than right defensive ends – more pass-rush threats. Selvie played some right defensive end in 2013 and is the Cowboys’ leading returner in sacks with seven, but he lacks the athleticism and bend required to play that side on a full-time basis.
But at least the Cowboys have pieces along the defensive line, which is something they didn’t have when free agency started, knowing they would not have DeMarcus Ware or keep Hatcher.