If you’re looking for a diamond-in-the-rough prospect in this year’s class of edge rushers, your search can stop with Eastern Michigan’s Maxx Crosby.
One of the nation’s most productive players at the position over his career, Crosby recently spoke exclusively with MCM about what makes a successful pass rusher, why he feels he’s flying under the radar and why he can’t wait to sack Tom Brady.
JM: You recently declared for the NFL draft despite having some remaining eligibility. You made that announcement via a lengthy statement on your Twitter account. Why did you feel now was the right time?
MC: It just felt like the right time for me personally. I believe I had a very good season and I’m ready to take the next step. I’ve developed well physically and I’m excited for what’s next. I felt like right now was the best time for me to make this decision. I just have to go prove more people wrong now.
JM: Speaking of your season, you recorded 7.5 sacks this year, and 11 sacks the year before that. Those are some solid numbers. Do you feel like you’re getting enough attention nationally?
MC: No, I don’t. It’s tough coming from Eastern Michigan, a MAC school. I play somewhere between Michigan and Michigan State to most people. They’re obviously always going to get more attention than us. I feel like my film speaks for itself. That’s all I can really say. I’m super excited to go show everyone what I can do.
JM: Speaking of the film, I wanna get into your pass rush arsenal.
MC: I would describe it as unorthodox and violent. I approach the game with a violent and aggressive mentality. I feel like I have a lot of moves in my arsenal. I still have a lot of room to grow though. The next couple of years will be crucial. I’ll figure out what I thrive in and what works best for me.
JM: Can you expand on calling your arsenal unorthodox? I find that very interesting.
MC: I just feel like when you turn on my film compared to a lot of other pass rushers, I’m willing to try a lot of different things. I bring a different approach to the game. I feel like I play the game at a different level than most pass rushers. People have to watch my film to understand. I’ll let them be the judge.
JM: How much of pass rushing do you feel is won before the snap?
MC: It’s a huge mental game. A lot of the time, I can figure out what the play is going to be before the snap. I like to watch the tackle’s eyes and see where he’s looking. The tight end can sometimes tip the play as well. Watching film can help you understand what’s happening and give you a great idea of how they operate as an offense. Knowing your opponent definitely helps.
JM: Who are some pass rushers you enjoyed watching growing up? Do you model your game after any of them in particular?
MC: I wouldn’t say I model my game after anybody. I try to watch film on different players and learn from them. You can always learn from others. If I had to pick two guys who have definitely influenced my game, I’d have to go with Chandler Jones and Joey Bosa. Those are my favorite players. They have excellent length and that gives them a huge advantage out there. Going back to the term unorthodox, I’d describe Chandler Jones like that. I don’t even know how to describe it. He’s a totally different type of pass rusher. He’s very smooth. He doesn’t always jump off the screen, he’s just extremely smooth and consistent.
JM: He’s a terrific player. Playing in the MAC, who would you say is the best offensive tackle you’ve ever gone up against?
MC: That’s tough. It’s difficult to pinpoint one person. Max Scharping from NIU was pretty good. He was extremely solid. I only went up against him a few times because he’s a left tackle and I played left end throughout the majority of my college career. I usually went up against the right tackle. He’s definitely one of the better ones I went up against though.
JM: Is there an NFL quarterback you look forward to sacking one day?
MC: Tom Brady.
JM: Everyone always says Tom Brady.
MC: Yeah, I can see that (laughs). I grew up an Ohio State fan for a couple of reasons. He’s a Michigan guy so I would love to get a couple of sacks against him. We’ll see. I don’t how much longer he’ll be playing.
JM: At least your reasoning is unique. You wanna sack him because he went to Michigan (laughs).
MC: Yeah, that’s absolutely the reason.
JM: Earlier you mentioned not getting enough attention due to playing for Eastern Michigan and in the MAC. NFL teams are inevitably going to ask you about the small school competition when they sit you down. How will you respond?
MC: I look at it a few ways. Those kids that go to the bigger programs, they get handed everything. They’re big time recruits and life has been totally different for them going all the way back to high school. I’m talking about the 5-star guys. A lot of them are already maxed out. I’m the guy from a smaller school but so is J.J. Watt. I’ve had to work for everything. James Harrison and Julian Edelman are two other small school guys. There’s a lot of fifth round picks that go on to become pro bowlers. I just look at everything as another opportunity to go out there and prove everybody wrong. If you watch my film against some of the bigger opponents I went up against, Big Ten and SEC teams, my numbers were actually more productive. I just have to keep working every single day.
JM: Do you feel your game is more refined as a pass rusher or against the run?
MC: I feel like I’m a better pass rusher. The biggest question about me before this season was my play against the run. People wanted to see me step up in the run game and I feel like I definitely did that. I had more tackles for loss this year. I thought I was more solid in that area this season. I definitely spent more time in the backfield this year. My football I.Q. took a step forward due to me spending more time in the film room.
JM: I’ve really appreciated your time today, Maxx. What can Eastern Michigan fans expect from you going forward?
MC: I would just tell them to keep an eye out for me. I’m gonna make everybody who went to Eastern, who loves Eastern proud. Big things are coming.