Obscure Studs of the NFL

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The Washington Redskins are loaded with receiving talent, and one of the team’s shining jewels is 2nd year wide receiver Jamison Crowder.

From Duke, Crowder was drafted in the 4th round in the 2015 NFL Draft. Crowder was drafted by the Redskins largely for his work as a return specialist, but the team hoped he would develop as a receiver. To their surprise, the 4th round pick caught on quickly, and after a few games became the team’s starting slot receiver.

In Crowder’s rookie season, he caught 59 passes for 604 yards and 2 touchdowns. Halfway through 2016, he’s caught 40 passes for 498 yards and 4 touchdowns. In his last 2 games, Crowder has broken out, catching 16 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown, putting up at least 100 yards in both of his last 2 games.

If you followed him at Duke, you’d know his talent backs up his recent spell of success, and I’ll explain what he brings to the table below.

Ball Skills

Crowder’s ball skills are really good, and this is especially true for a late round pick. The best receivers at the catch point can create a margin for error for the quarterback, and with the limited skill set of Kirk Cousins, he’ll need all the help he can get. Thankfully, Crowder provides a cushion at the slot position.

In the first GIF, Crowder is wide open on a coverage miscommunication by the Cowboys defense, but Cousins’ pass is inaccurate despite this. Luckily for him, Crowder is able to adjust at the catch point and make an impressive catch for a (should have been) easy touchdown. In the 2nd GIF, Cousins’ pass is again inaccurate in tight coverage. In this case however, it’s more acceptable, as a more accurate pass would turn into a hospital and wreck Crowder. Either way, #80 makes an amazing adjustment for a big gain.

In the 3rd GIF, Cousins extends the play, with Crowder going back to his quarterback to help him out. Crowder is a smart receiver, understanding not only when to adjust to a catch, but how to adjust as well. In this play, he makes the sliding catch well past the defender covering him, allowing for a first down conversion.

In the 4th GIF, Crowder runs a fly route, making an impressive quick cut outside. Here, Cousins lays the 50/50 ball where only Crowder can get it, allowing #80 to put himself in a good position to go up for the ball and make the catch.

Like his teammate Jordan Reed, Crowder possesses a nice catch radius, allowing him to pull in inaccurate passes (such as the one above) with relative ease.

Vital For Yards After The Catch

At 5’8 and 182 lb, Crowder is small and nimble, making him a commodity at the YAC position. The Redskins run a YAC heavy offense designed on screens and dumpoffs, and in recent play, Crowder has been more heavily involved. With his status at Duke as a return specialist, you knew his speed was no joke.

The 2 GIFs above show off Crowder’s impressive burst of speed right after the catch point. Both of these plays go for large gains not just because of the design, but also because of #80’s quickness. The first GIF goes near the end zone, while the 2nd goes for a touchdown.

As well as offering speed, Crowder also offers elusiveness. The craft of a YAC receiver doesn’t just involve speed; it also requires the receiver to act in space and create more of it by eluding defenders (in layman’s terms, breaking ankles). Crowder’s been able to do that tenfold. In the first GIF, Crowder takes a screen and bursts through the line of scrimmage, showing a patient running style while making nice cuts inside to get the first down.

In the 2nd GIF, Crowder uses a blocker on another screen to provide an ample amount of time for him, and he uses it to fake out the defense, creating space for him to run through. An excellent decision. In the 3rd GIF, Crowder takes a pass short of the first down, but eludes his guy at the last second while stutter stepping another defender for more yards after the catch and a critical first down.

Ball Security

As I stressed in my Michael Crabtree article, the most technically refined receivers are the ones that can hang onto the ball regardless of the position and situation. By situation, I of course mean if defenders are ready to prey on the receiver at the catch point. This can be a tough habit for projects at wide receiver to make, so Crowder’s ability to do this at collisions is a great exception.

Crowder’s ball security is up there with Crabtree’s even though their skill sets are slightly different. He understands to place the ball at his body just before impact, and when making tough catches with the football, makes sure to firmly grasp it with his hands, as shown in the GIFs above.

CONCLUSION

Jamison Crowder is a very good player, as well as one of the best slot receivers in the league. He’s a quality route runner, mastermind at getting yards after the catch, adjusting his body, and getting tight ball security, all of which are further shown in the GIFs above. It’s a lot of fun watching him break out these last couple of games, and he’s been a really good receiver since his rookie season.

Many times Crowder is schemed open, but unlike, say, Jordan Matthews, he is very reliable at the catch point, and is a freak getting yards after the catch. Small and fast, Crowder has been one of the Redskins’ top players this season.

That’s saying a lot in a high quality receiving corps such as Washington’s. Quickly becoming a fan favorite, Crowder’s reps have increased and he is rewarding the Redskins staff by going beyond expectations.

Redskins fans like that.

(Featured Image via Redskins.com)

Obscure Studs of the NFL

Previous: Michael Crabtree

Next: Tyrell Williams

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