Multi-talented performer
Crawford sees versatility as key to landing roster spot with Redskins
Posted on 05/09/2012 by
There’s a famous phrase: “Timing is everything.”

Former SMU cornerback Richard Crawford’s father was in Dallas during the week leading up to the recent NFL Draft, and stuck around to watch the event with his son, who was thought to have a chance to get selected late, or at least picked up as a free agent.

Cornerback Richard Crawford said he is looking forward to joining former SMU teammates Josh LeRibeus and Aldrick Robinson with the Washington Redskins (photo by Travis Johnston).
Crawford fulfilled a dream when he was chosen in the seventh round by the Washington Redskins. He was the fourth Mustang drafted in the 2012, and the second by the Redskins, who grabbed offensive lineman Josh LeRibeus in the third round.

As it turned out, Crawford’s father wasn’t in the room when his son was selected, having stepped out to run a quick errand. But he returned moments later to celebrate with his son, who had just received the call for which he had been waiting from Washington head coach Mike Shanahan.

“Coach Shanahan called and said, ‘Richard? Congratulations — you’re a Washington Redskin,’” Crawford said. “I told him ‘thank you,’ and then it started to sink in. It was time to go to work.”

Crawford said he had an indication that the Redskins might select him, as they were the only team to bring him in for a pre-draft visit.

“I had a great time on my visit up there,” Crawford said. “I I met Coach Shanahan, I met Coach (Jim) Haslett (the Redskins’ defensive coordinator) and Coach (Richard) Hightower (who works with defensive backs and special teams).

“Their new secondary coach, Raheem Morris, wasn’t around, but the others were there, and they sounded like they were really interested. I was there for a day — Coach Hightower was my host, and I took a physical in the morning and talked about the defense they run.”

Crawford said his transition to the Redskins could be made easier by the fact that many of the defensive schemes are similar to what he has known for the last two years at SMU.

“They run a 3-4, too, and a lot of what they do is like what we do at SMU,” he said. “A lot of the plays they run are exactly like what (SMU defensive coordinator) Coach (Tom) Mason runs — it’s just different terminology.

“They run more man defense in Washington, but the last few games of the year we pretty much turned in to a man team, too.”

Making the team is no foregone conclusion for Crawford, who got his initial introduction to his new team at the team’s rookie mini-camp last weekend. The Redskins carried five cornerbacks for most of the season in 2011, and some spots already are locked up. Veteran DeAngelo Hall has three years and $22 million remaining on his contract, so he is going nowhere. Veteran Josh Wilson also likely is safe, with two years remaining on a three-year, $13.5 million deal. Four veterans — Kevin Barnes and Brandyn Thompson and free agent signees Leigh Torrence and Cedric Griffin — all are signed just through the 2012 season, and Washington also drafted Iowa cornerback Jordan Bernstine, who was chosen four spots after Crawford in the seventh round.

But despite the crowd of candidates for roster spots, Crawford said he is optimistic about his chances.

“(The coaches) said I have a really good chance of making the team, or they wouldn’t have drafted me,” he said. “They said they want me to come in and compete at the nickel back spot and play some special teams, and they want depth behind the guys they have.”

Crawford will see some familiar faces in Washington, where he will be on the same roster as former teammates Josh LeRibeus, the former SMU guard whom the Redskins drafted in the third round and worked at center through the rookie mini-camp, and wide receiver Aldrick Robinson, who was drafted last year by Washington and spent most of the season on the practice squad before being activated for the final game of the season.

“I’m glad they picked up Josh, because he’s a really good player and we’re pretty close,” Crawford said, “and I heard from Al after I got drafted. He just said, ‘Congratulations — let’s go win a championship.’”

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