One thing that’s clear in the Dolphins’ draft preparations: They’re placing a premium on players who can rush the quarterback.
According to a team source, Eastern Michigan’s Maxx Crosby is the latest defensive front-seven prospect summoned to Dolphins headquarters for a pre-draft visit.
Last season, the Eastern Michigan standout defensive end had 70 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss, an interception and four forced fumbles.
The year before, he had 11 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss, four more forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
He also has three sacks in four career games against Power 5 teams, with the sacks against Kentucky and Purdue.
Here’s NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein’s assessment of the 6-5, 255 pound defensive end: “Developmental, long-limbed defensive end who needs a year or two of bulking up before he’s ready to see the field. He’s long and flexible and will flash on tape as both a rusher and run defender and those traits could outweigh his poor contact balance and play strength for some teams. If he grows into his gangly frame, Crosby offers a higher ceiling than some Day 3 prospects he could be lumped in with.”
Zierlein projects him as a sixth-rounder.
Crosby went under-the-radar as a two-star prospect out of a Texas high school. Eastern Michigan was his only FBS offer, according to Rivals.com.
And check this out from Pro Football Focus:
“Among the 142 FBS edge defenders with at least 800 snaps over the past two seasons (2017-18), Crosby ranked fifth in overall grade (91.7), second in run-defense grade (91.2) and 11th in pass-rush grade (90.0).
“Despite his long, slight frame (6-foot-5, 265 pounds), Crosby thrived in run defense in each of his final two seasons with Eastern Michigan. He was the first to make contact with the ball carrier on 13.7% of his run-defense snaps and recorded an 8.7 run-stop percentage across his redshirt sophomore and junior seasons, ranking 10th and tied for 11th, respectively.
“Only one other FBS edge defender (NIU’s Sutton Smith) has recorded more pressures than Crosby over the past two years than Crosby, logging a whopping 112 pressures (72 hurries, 22 hits, 18 sacks) across his 593 pass-rush snaps.”
I’ve confirmed 21 of the Dolphins’ 30 maximum permitted pre-draft visits and of those 21, 13 are front seven defenders. That’s not a coincidence. (Players who went to high school or college in South Florida are not counted against that 30, per NFL rules.)
The Dolphins have only two defensive ends who have played more than 10 NFL games: Charles Harris (three sacks in 27 games) and journeyman Tank Carradine.
Here’s my Monday piece on more players the Dolphins have brought, including a prominent UM player that they recently dined with.