Overview: Like all first day NFL picks, the Denver Broncos drafted Texas DE Tim Crowder with the expectation he would develop into, at worst, a solid contributor on the Denver defensive line. After two relatively unsuccessful seasons, the Broncos cut Crowder right before the start of the 2009 regular season. Fortunately for Tim, there was a team out there coping with a failed first day 2007 draft pick on the defensive line: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs claimed Crowder, and in doing so claimed a hungry, physical youngster who's showing that he can play a little football. Already, in just 11 games as a Buccaneer, Crowder has dwarfed his 2007 and 2008 stats combined while coming off the bench at defensive end. He's appeared in every game this season for the Bucs and recorded stats each game in a limited role. As the season has gone on, he's earned more playing time and has gradually made the most of it, earning two starts at DE after the departure of Gaines Adams. Last week, he showed up big, sacking Ryan and Redman, along with recovering a second half fumble.
Stick with us through the jump to check out some of Crowder's highlights courtesy of Niko:
Look back at Week 12 highlights: In the first clip, both Stylez and Tim come off the ball with a quick first step. Tim gets his hands up high and inside the tackle's arms, while maintaining a low center of gravity and strong drive with his legs... a picture perfect bull rush. The upfield pressure from both ends caused Ryan to step up and out of the pocket, where the ends sandwiched Ryan for a sack.
Next, Tim is lined up on the right side this time and goes one-on-one with the tackle. He head fakes an outside move, then cuts back to the inside of the tackle and extends his arms. Although not a technical swim, he managed to push the tackle back with a high push, get his right shoulder inside the tackle, and move his way around him. Pure strength, hand coordination, and quickness. Sure, Redman fell down, but with the speed he got in the backfield, I'm not sure it would've made a difference if he kept his feet.
Finally, with the Bucs leading 17-13, Timmy-on-the-spot made another big play with a fumble recovery that killed a Falcon drive in Buccaneer territory late in the 3rd quarter. Faced against the adept-blocking TE Tony Gonzalez, Tim got up the field and shielded away from the play by Gonzo, but he had the awareness and hustle to come back to where the ballcarrier appeared to be going down and made an impact play.
Week 13 Prospects: what has impressed me the most about Tim's game is his pure strength and his use of his arms and legs together to get a good, effective push on his blocker. Unlike Gaines, he knows how to use his arms and hands, which showed on the video. Against Carolina, he will likely be faced off against LT Travelle Wharton, who, at 6-1, 312, is smaller than both the man he's replacing (Jeff Otah, on IR) and the opposite tackle...behemoth Jeff Otah (6'6, 330). As such, he may have an easier time one-on-one in getting a rush on Matt Moore than Jimmy Wilkerson. However, because of that and Otah's dominance, Wharton could get some TE or RB help on the edge. In the running game, Carolina may run to the right often, which would give Crowder an important responsibility to limit the cutback lanes of the speedy DeAngelo Williams.
WHAT DO YOU ALL THINK OF TIM CROWDER'S TIME AS A BUCCANEER SO FAR? LIKE WHAT YOU'VE SEEN? NEED TO SEE MORE? DO YOU GUYS THINK HE HAS WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE A LONG-TERM IMPACT ON THE BUCCANEER DEFENSE?