Twelve months ago draft pundits and scouts were penciling in their extremely premature 2012 mock drafts, and in every list you saw the same player hovering anywhere from 8th to 15th- Nebraska DT Jared Crick; and why not? After all, Crick has just come off a stunning 2010 season where he finished with 14 tackles for loss, and his second straight 10 sack season. Sure there were some concerns about whether his size could last on the inside in the NFL (he's 285 lbs) but the overwhelming report on Crick was the same- he can flat out play football.
As it stands now Crick is trending as a late-second/early-third round selection as teams try and work out what condition he is in injury wise, and still thinking about that size issue in the back of their minds. He's coming off both a pectoral, and knee injury that cut his season short, but even before that he was having a mediocre 2011 campaign. The real problem for Crick is working out where to play him, he's too light to play DT (where he played in college), too slow to play 4-3 DE, and his final position could very well end up being as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. However, there's a problem with that too, at 6'6" he doesn't have a solid base and his pad level tends to get a little too high.
The folks over at Mocking the Draft are a little concerned that his effectiveness in 2009 was due to Ndamukong Suh, but saw his 2010 campaign as promising.
Crick may not have top athleticism or an array of moves, but he's good at getting after the passer. Had 10.5 sacks in 2009 alongside Ndamukong Suh. his 9.5 sacks last season was more impressive, though. Crick rarely saw double blockers in 2009 and Five of his sacks came against Baylor. Last season he was given much more attention and remained productive.
Conversely, the National Football Post have a much more bleak outlook.
Isn't a guy who can hold up vs. the run inside in the NFL and isn't a dynamic pass rusher either. However, as a five-technique DE I can see him finding a home with some versatility on 3rd down.
At the end of the day I think Crick will suit a 3-4 scheme, but it's unlikely he possesses much value to the Atlanta Falcons. I don't believe he can improve his speed or athleticism to the point where he can be a reliable pass rusher as a 4-3 defensive end. There will likely be players with a similar pedigree as Crick, but who fit the Falcons' scheme better when they're on the clock.