A disappointing NFL Combine dropped rookie wide receiver into the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, and the Washington Redskins snapped him up. They think they might have gotten a steal, and the early results are very positive. Crowder has made an early impression on coaches and now teammate DeSean Jackson has joined in the praise of Crowder.
The Redskins are giving Crowder the first crack at winning the team's punt and kick return duties. If he continues to stand out as a receiver, he could quickly move up the depth chart. The Redskins' slot wide receiver spot is currently occupied by Andre Roberts, but he struggled in 2014 and he was brought on board before general manager Scot McCloughan was hired.
Crowder may not be a straight-line burner, but he doesn't need to be if he wants to become a dominant inside receiver. There are different ways to win at the NFL level, and Crowder wins with a combination of quickness, lateral explosion, precise route running and strong hands.
"Right now, he's showing that he can take what we're teaching him in the classroom and translate it effortlessly to the playing field," Gruden said of Crowder back in May. "He's got good, strong hands, and obviously, based on what we saw on the college tape, we know going across the middle that he's got no fear. … He's got all the traits we want in a slot receiver, and obviously, he's a heck of a punt returner."
The NFL Combine wasn't a complete bust for Crowder, either. He showed off his explosion with a 37-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-3 broad jump. Let's face it, the measurements don't mean everything. Antonio Brown has developed into one of the NFL's best wide receivers despite a lack of size and straight-line speed.
For now, Crowder will continue to compete in hopes of landing the team's third wide receiver spot as a rookie. His main competition, Roberts, led all slot wide receivers with seven dropped passes in 2014.