October 24, 2014

Shawn Crable – Potential Player, or Bad Joke?

By Bruce Allen, Patriots Daily Staff

Editor’s note: The verdict is in. Apparently “Bad Joke” is the winner. The Patriots released Crable the day before training camp. Mike Reiss speculates that Crable may have failed his conditioning test and this was the final straw as far as they were concerned. You may now disregard everything written below.

Shawn Crable

Mention the name Shawn Crable these days, and you’re likely to get an eye roll, a sarcastic remark, or a blank stare. The Patriots linebacker is entering his third season with the Patriots, but has yet to take the field for a regular season game. He has been on the Injured Reserve list each of his first two seasons. Crable was inactive for the first eight games of 2008 before being placed on IR when the Patriots, needed help at linebacker, re-signed veterans Junior Seau and Rosevelt Colvin. Last season, Crable was placed on IR just prior to the regular season, on September 5th. Given this history, skepticism about Crable and his ability to ever become a contributor is certainly warranted. But is it fair to completely write the guy off? Sure, the last two years could just be bad luck, a fluke.  After a shoulder injured derailed his freshman season, Crable didn’t show himself to be injury-prone while at Michigan. If you read the scouting reports on him prior to the 2008 draft, you get the impression of a guy with a ton of upside, and a unique ability to rush the passer and create havoc in the backfield. He was also a defensive captain his senior year with the Wolverines, which fits in with the solid citizen approach the Patriots are taking to building their locker room and team. This draft profile from NFLDraftScout.com compares Crable to Carl Banks and Shawn Phillips. Note the first paragraph:

An emerging talent at the strong-side linebacker position, Crable reminds some scouts of Carl Banks, an All-American at that position for the Wolverines’ arch-rivals, Michigan State, who went on to earn All-Pro honors during a stellar career with the New York Giants. The talented youngster has the same excellent read-and-react skills and playing strength, doing a great job of attacking the backfield coming off the edge that Banks showed throughout his college and professional career.

And then later on in the article:

Compares To: SHAUN PHILLIPS-San Diego … Crable is not as bulky as Phillips, but his frame has the potential to carry 260 pounds. He is a very good edge rusher and blitzer who relies a lot on his quickness to surprise a lethargic blocker. He lacks the sand in his pants to generate a good anchor and must do a better job of using his hands to protect his body from combo blocks and cut blocks. He is quick to see the play develop, but it is rare for him to come out of his area to make a play. He is too stiff in his hips to get good depth in his pass drops and struggles with ball recognition when playing in the zone, as he does bite on play-action. He will need to improve his lower body strength for the next level, as his only value right now is as a pass rusher.

Recent reports indicate that Crable has bulked up some in the two years since coming out of college. He’d better have, he hasn’t needed to recover from the grueling grind of playing NFL games. Hopefully that added weight can address some the concerns laid out in the draft profile (not enough “sand in the pants” was listed as a concern). In the 2008 preseason I have some vague memories of Crable looking rather impressive against the reserve NFL talent he was competing against when he was on the field. Everywhere you turn, experts analyzing the Patriots point first to the team’s lack of a pass rush as THE biggest weakness on the team, and the main reason why they will not be a Super Bowl contender in 2010. They say that the Patriots have done very little (drafting Jermaine Cunningham, re-signing Tully Banta-Cain and Derrick Burgess) to address this need. If the Patriots are counting on Crable to play a huge role and fill this pass rush need, that’s obviously a huge risk. I don’t think they’re counting on him to solve their needs, but I think they do expect him to be a contributor this season and part of the solution to the pass rush. If he’s injured again, or can’t perform, it’s time to cut bait. Fellow linebacker Tully Banta-Cain had the following to say about Crable recently: “He’s got all the tools. He’s got the size. He looks the part. Even when he’s healthy, he plays the part. As long as he can stay healthy, he’s going to be a great impact for us.” I’ll settle for any impact at this point, let alone great impact. It’s a huge “as long as,” but Crable clearly fits a lot of what the Patriots look for in a pass-rushing outside linebacker. They haven’t given up on him yet, and I don’t think I’m quite ready to, either. I’m hoping that when we look back at the 2010 season, we can list Shawn Crable as one of the pleasant surprises of this season. Update: Mike Reiss has a look at players who didn’t do much in their first two years, but emerged in their third: When the third time is the charm

Comments

  1. To me the key with Crable will be what his shins look like. Huge presence but his calves look like they belong to a marathoner’s. In training camp (before injuries) he’s looked like a star. But yeah, any impact might be the strawberry on top.

  2. Good article Bruce. I actually am not real optomistic about him, but I do leave the window open maybe slightly. Like you say, we’ll see this year one way or another. He was productive his rookie year in pre-season, but people forget…he DID start on the regular roster. He was on the team for six weeks or so before going on IR, but was inactive for every game. So he wasn’t ready to make an impact at that point, even when healthy. If he has improved for this year, it wasn’t from experience and would have to have come from weight training, knowing the system thru studying, observation, etc.

    On the other hand, I always got the impression his medical woes weren’t overwhelming injuries. Its hard to say with the Patriots not really talking about injuries, but his rookie year I got the impression they just needed a roster spot and walla, Crable develops an injury and goes on IR. Last year I think he had some legit issue, but had it been an experienced vet they could have waited. But again, they weren’t gonna hold the spot for a guy who hasn’t proven himself. I could be wrong and this is just my impression from what I can glean.

    In any event, we’ll know on this guy by September 14th.

  3. Timbuk3 says:

    Ironically, I see the most appropriate Crable analog is TBC. He is a terror in practice who has yet to get on the field. In TBC’s case, the problem was claimed to be depth, in Crable’s, injury. TBC quietly complained on his way out the door that he just never got the chance to shine [to which I would reply, yes you did, you just didn't show enough] and he proved in SF that he needed more experience and a little bit lower expectations. TBC deserves all the credit for exceeding the JAG expectations and having a great season last year and I am optimistically hoping for the same from Crable.

    Surprising to see some actual research by Riess but that is a good article that shows that we should not count out Crable just yet. With McKenzie back as well, and likely a veteran pickup after June 1st, I am starting to be more and more optimistic about the linebacker corps we have on board.

  4. Classless says:

    It is fair to write off Crable because the NFL is such a competitive, “what have done for me lately” league. Since every roster spot is critical to a team’s success, stashing away Crable ends up hurting the Patriots unless he can contribute. If Crable can’t see the field, there are scores of other players lining up to take a shot at his spot.

  5. AZPatsFan says:

    It is quite apparent why Belichick has not given up on Crabel. Standing 6;5″ with a 34 inch arm length and big hands, he has the dimensions that you seek in a DE–> OLB conversion. He also possesses 4.57 speed in the 40, which puts him in the elite category as well.

    Both Cunnigham and Crabel played Strongside DE in college so that they should have better run defense capabilities. But Cunningham at 6′ 3.5″ only ran 4.68 in college and the notorious 4.92, when Spikes ran 5.06 on the Florida Pro day in the rain and mist.

    Both seem to be adaptable to the strongside that Vrabel and McG held down. leaving RDE/ROLB to TBC.

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