Su'a Cravens, S/LB
School: USC | Conference: PAC-12
College Experience: Junior | Age: 20
Height / Weight: 6-1 / 226 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd Round
NFL Comparison: Deone Buchanon
Su'a Cravens is one of the most interesting prospects in the draft this year. USC deployed him all over the field. Cravens began his career as a safety at USC before being moved to a linebacker role his last two seasons. Cravens was used as a box safety, weakside linebacker, strongside linebacker, inside linebacker, and even appeared as times to play a little slot corner. He is, without a doubt, one of the most versatile players in this draft. There are a lot of ideas about what his best position would be in the NFL. Some view him as a weakside OLB in a 4-3. Others view him as a strong safety. Some even think he's an ILB in a 3-4. My two cents say that Su'a Cravens is a box safety at the next level one that has the speed and athleticism to stick with TEs, RBs, and slot receivers and one that is incredibly gifted at creating pressure off the edge. The strengths, weaknesses, and fit are going to be based on my view that his best fit is a safety with the Redskins.
- Excellent size for a strong safety. He's long and moves fluidly.
- Terrific initial burst off the edge when asked to pass rush. Good pursuit when coming off the edge.
- Excelled in his role covering the slot as a linebacker. Could come in and play nickel.
- Can lay the wood when he tackles. It's almost scary at times when he launches. When he locks on he's going for it.
- Can get off blocks from TEs and FBs. Has good vision can be a missile when playing the run.
- Can get lost in the trash sometimes – this happened when he played inside linebacker. Lacks the block shedding strength and skills to play from that position.
- His discipline is going to be tested when he has to cover 2. I'm projecting a bit here but will his physical playing style help or hurt him in the deep cover situations?
- Needs to play with more urgency when playing the run from the backside.
Let's see his work:
Su'a Cravens can absolutely play LB pic.twitter.com/RfX13S4UXT— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) February 11, 2016
They might not have one true position but find a spot for these defensive play makers: Su'a Cravens, Jeremy Cash, Jatavis Brown.— Jordan Plocher (@PFF_Jordan) February 4, 2016
put Su'a Cravens around the LOS & let him blow sh*t up. That's where he'll cook.But he can cover, too. He's a player pic.twitter.com/dLSgONpfmM— KP (@The_KP_Show) January 22, 2016
If your team is Craven a safety that's dominant vs. the run, Su'a is your guy https://t.co/lEeYk55WOl— KP (@The_KP_Show) February 10, 2016
Pro Football Focus analyst Kevin Connaghan writes that USC LB/S Su'a Cravens "excelled in coverage, holding quarterbacks targeting his coverage to a 52.3 passer rating over the past two seasons." A spicy meatball of a stat right there. Cravens' coverage skills are so finely attuned because he actually began his career as a safety before finishing his final two seasons with the Trojans as a linebacker. Noted Connaghan, "He thrived in that hybrid role [covering the slot at LB], showing the ability to set the edge and play the run at a high level, and also contribute as a pass rusher." A recent four-round mock draft by NFL Media analyst Chad Reuter had the Bengals selecting Cravens with pick No. 55 in the back half of the second round.
How He Would Fit on the Redskins
Cravens only fits on the Redskins as an SS, specifically as an S/LB in the nickel package. This hybrid role is becoming more and more common in hybrid defenses. Players that can toe the line of both positions well have been taken high in the draft and have had success most notably Deone Buchanon and Shaq Thompson. Who knows what the Redskins staff thinks of Cravens but there is a role here for him. Joe Barry loves the 3-3-5 nickel package. The 5th defensive back (Kyshoen Jarrett) had a lot of success playing from this package using his flexible skill set in tandem with his size to match up with slot WRs and TEs. This sub-package is very friendly to hybrid players. If Jarrett is the future at FS, Cravens can come in immediately and fill that void and I believe he will excel there as he did in college. A lot depends on the long-term plans for the secondary and what kind of player Joe Barry wants in that role but I think Cravens has star potential as a hybrid safety.
It looks like Craven has decided he does want to be a 4-3 OLB.
USC LB Su'a Cravens opened Combine training at 238 lbs.
If that's the case good luck to him. It will be interesting to see him at the combine and how 13 extra pounds affects his speed fluidity and coverage skills if at all. It also means that maybe that person who suggested Craven's best fit would be at ILB in a 3-4 wasn't crazy after all. 238 lbs is certainly enough mass. Workouts, position drills, and interviews are going to be huge for him.
If he is still the same athlete and teams think he can patrol the middle of the field at inside linebacker he would be without a doubt the best coverage linebacker in this draft.
Now he's 223.
Talked to Su’a Cravens before Combine about his NFL position. Said he can play S or LB. Last few months, he cut weight from 238 lbs to 223.— Ryan Kartje (@Ryan_Kartje) February 25, 2016
Su'a Cravens: 6006, 236 lbs.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 26, 2016
#USC LB Su'a Cravens:— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) February 26, 2016
6'1/226 lbs. 32 1/8" arms. 9 1/2" hands.