Names like Jadeveon Clowney and Kony Ealy headline what is expected to be a deep crop of defensive ends in the 2014 NFL Draft. Oregon State's Scott Crichton believes he also deserves top billing. Crichton led the Beavers with 7.5 sacks among his 19 tackles for loss last season.
Crichton is used to being a little overlooked, going back to high school when he was a three-star prospect out of Tacoma. He has known since his redshirt freshman year that he has the potential to do big things at the next level, however, and all the better if he can do them with Troy Polamalu and the Steelers.
What has life been like since you declared for the NFL Draft? Have you been able to relax at all?
There is no relaxing over here, man. Just straight working. I work from 9 o'clock in the morning to about 5 o'clock. We have treatment, extensive rehab and recovery, it's a big thing over here. There's some time to relax, but I can't find the time to do anything eventful.
What's your regimen like?
I'm working at API Arizona. I get up about 7 o'clock, I come over here about 7:30 or 7:40, maybe something around there. They feed us over here. Then I get treatment before our major lifts or before our workout at 9 o'clock until 11. Then at 11 we're done. 2:30 would be our next workout. Between those times it's hotel. I get my treatment for whatever injuries. Then I get into my boots, it's these little recovery boots that I get into. Then I go onto the next lift.
What's it like working at API? Are you surrounded by other draft prospects?
Yeah, there are a lot of other draft prospects here, big-time ones too. Everyone's got a different personality, and it's unique and it's great. I feel like it's a great atmosphere to train in.
Who are some of the other prospects you have connected with?
There are a bunch of guys over here. Like, Greg Robinson is over here, easily a top 10 pick. Louis Nix, Marcus Smith, Deandre Coleman, Tyler Larsen ... there's a bunch of big-time players over here, man, it's great.
How competitive is the atmosphere?
It's pretty competitive, but then again we tend to have fun with it too, we're all like buds. It's fun, but at the same time it is competitive. We've done some one-on-ones for position work, and we go head to head right there.
Who has been the strongest guy you've gone against?
Man, Greg Robinson [laughs]. Yeah.
Have you been able to talk to players who are currently in the league?
I've talked to a couple, yeah, but nothing on a friendship level, just some advice. All-time players, too.
What kind of advice have you received?
The league is way different than college. Everyone is really good, there's not going to be that one guy who sucks. It's the best of the best.
Has it sunk in that the college experience is over? Is it weird to think you may be a starting defensive end in the NFL next year?
Nah, it hasn't really sunk in yet, it's been crazy. I'm just focusing right now on what I need to do for the combine and for the rest of my time until draft day. It's been crazy thinking about how I was just in college. And I was just remembering showing up as a freshman, too. Time flies by.
What do you think you're going to miss most about college?
Just the great relationships I maintained over my four years there, I built so many. I've been emotionally attached to the people of Corvallis, and especially my teammates and the fans over there that I met -- I met tons of fans -- great people were at my college over there. I still miss the people there.
As you turn your focus to the combine, is there a particular aspect of your game that you're hammering away at?
Just the overall aspect of my game. I need to improve on everything, from stance, to get-off, to strength and speed ... I think all of it can be improved, and hopefully it does come combine day.
Do you feel you have a weakness?
No. I don't think I have a weakness. I feel like I have done pretty good on my overall game. But together I have to improve on everything.
Is there a role you want to play in the NFL? Do you think you can handle being an outside linebacker in a 3-4? Do you prefer having your hand in the dirt in a 4-3?
I prefer having my hand in the dirt, but I wouldn't mind playing as a 3-4 linebacker or a rush linebacker. I'll do whatever for whatever team I play for. I'll just adjust.
This year's class of defensive ends is particularly strong. Two of the names that stand out are Jadeveon Clowney and Kony Ealy. Is there anything that you feel makes you a standout in this year's draft?
I don't really know those defensive linemen. I've heard of them, definitely, but I don't really know their style of play.
What was your breakthrough moment when you realized that playing in the NFL might be possible? When did you realize you were going to be a top-tier pro prospect?
My freshman year. Redshirt freshman year. I wanted to be the best defensive end in the conference. I got the starting job in the spring, and I was like, "Why stop there?" I just wanted to be the best defensive end in the Pac-12. I started making plays from the first game, and I was like, "Man, I can do something big," and I just started balling since. I think I've progressed to become a better player each and every year.
What are you looking forward to most about playing in the NFL?
Just to see where I'm at in my game and how much I have improved throughout college and this whole training process. I can't wait to get on the field right now, I miss football that much. I just want to compete against the best because I want to be the best, honestly. I feel like I'm the best defensive end in this draft right now. I want to be the best to play in the NFL.
Growing up, did you have a favorite NFL team?
It was the Steelers.
Is it still the Steelers?
It's still the Steelers, yeah. I hope I can play for them.
Watching them play, did you have any idols? Anyone you modeled your game after?
Troy Polamalu. That's why I started following the Steelers in the first place, because he was the only Polynesian athlete that I knew growing up that played in the league when I first started watching, and I just started following him when he was at USC and then in Pittsburgh. I just thought, "Man, he's got great energy." Well-, soft-spoken but he's not like that on the field, he speaks volumes when he's on the field.
How do you try model yourself after Polamalu?
He plays fast. He takes a lot of risks, but at the same time he never talks himself out of playing fast. You know what I mean? I know he has an assignment to do, but he plays fast at every moment, he gives full effort, and it's just unbelievable to see him play.
Is there anything you feel you don't get enough credit for?
Probably my run-stop game. I feel like some people see me mainly as a pass rusher. I feel like I didn't get enough credit for that, but that's okay, I just gotta show it in the league. And that's what I'll do.