Height and length.
In terms of pure physical characteristics, those would probably be at the top of the list for players at the cornerback position. Everyone wants big corners because football is a game of inches. If Richard Sherman is a an inch or two shorter, then maybe that ball he deflected in the NFC Championship game evades his fingertips and is caught by Michael Crabtree. The 49ers would have won the game and likely the Super Bowl. That's how much inches can mean in football.
That's my best argument as to why Bob Diaco wasn't that interested in Shaun Crawford. Crawford does not have the height and length most coaches are looking for these days in their cornerbacks. That's a fact.
But Crawford is an exceptional athlete. Not only that, he is a great football player. He is the kind of player that does so many things well that it compensates for his size.
He tackles extremely well. He is probably the best tackler in space that I have seen in this entire recruiting class. He makes impact plays on offense, defense, and special teams. And the kid can flat out fly.
Crawford has the kind of speed that can erase mistakes by his teammates or even himself. Here's exactly what I'm talking about:
Crawford is lined up about eight yards back as a safety.
He does make a mistake on this play. If you just watch the quarterback and the running back, you may think it's a zone-read play. In reality, this is a designed quarterback run and it's a fake to the running back.
The two red arrows are players pulling to the other side of formation to act as lead blockers for the quarterback. Crawford should see that and know where the ball is heading. Instead, he bites on the fake and steps up thinking the running back may have the football.
This is just to basically show that Crawford isn't in a good position. At this point, most players would be a non-factor in the end result of the play.
His speed has enabled him a chance to get back into the play.
Crawford gets to the ball carrier because of great effort, but it's too simple to say that is it. He had the flat out speed to get there and get in on a tackle he had no business being in on.
He got to the play because he's an athlete. He was able to cause a fumble, which his team recovered, because he's a very good football player.
Crawford plays safety for his high school so he is not put in man coverage very often. Considering he was locking up players left and right at the recent Irish Invasion camp, that doesn't appear to be an issue with him going forward at Notre Dame. Given the type of athlete he is, I expect that he can develop into a very good player in man coverage and play a nickel role where he can match up with smaller/quicker players in the slot.
He blocks kicks, returns punts, causes turnovers, and hits like a player that weighs about thirty pounds more than he does. To put it boldly, if Crawford was a few inches taller, he would be up for consideration for a 5 star ranking. He's that good of a football player.
He is a tremendous talent that should end up as one of the best players Notre Dame signs in the 2015 recruiting class.