With the 53rd pick of the 2016 NFL draft, the Washington Redskins surprised some by staying on the clock and not trading back; instead they drafted Su’a Cravens from USC.
At 6’1 and 226lbs, Cravens demonstrated incredible versatility during his three years in college, lining up as a pure Safety as a freshman, and then moving all over the field in his sophomore and junior years.
Notching up 9 interceptions and 10.5 sacks at USC, Cravens impressed scouts with his ability to contribute effectively across the field. As so many young players at the Safety position do, Cravens paid homage to Sean Taylor numerous times throughout his career, including this tweet all the way back in 2014:
RIP to the best safety to ever do it, Sean Taylor. There will never be another like you.
— Su’a Kristopher Cravens (@iammsuzy) September 27, 2014
On a conference call with Redskins media immediately following his selection, Cravens compared himself to Arizona Cardinals Safety Deone Buccanon as well, which is a player that Scot McCloughan, Jay Gruden and Joe Barry would all be thrilled to have.
Let’s take a look at what Su’a Cravens brings to the Washington Redskins.
Football instincts and play-making skills
When it comes to young defensive players with a natural ability to read the play and get to the ball, Su’a Cravens name would have to be close to the top of the list in the 2016 draft class. The level of production that Cravens delivered for USC was consistently high, and this is a direct result of just an innate capability to make the right decisions in a split second time and time again.
With nine interceptions and four forced fumbles in college, Cravens demonstrated a great talent for forcing turnovers, and with 134 solo tackles over his three years at USC, he is a proven run stuffer and play stopper.
Not only is Cravens excellent in coverage, either from a Safety or Linebacker position, but he’s also proficient at blitzing and getting around blockers to the Quarterback. Watching his tape you will see him bring down the ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage.
Cravens is superb when it comes to taking good angles in pursuit, and his speed and positioning sees himself covering a huge area of the field when asked to do so. He can cover Running Backs, Tight Ends, or act as the last line of defense against Wide Receivers.
Physicality and athleticism
Given how explosive Cravens looks on tape, many were surprised to see him clock in at “only” 4.69 at his pro day 40 yard dash. Regardless, there can be no denying his pure athleticism that he brings to Washington.
Cravens is a hard hitter who embraces the physical aspects of football, but significantly doesn’t often lead with his helmet when tackling. His open field tackling skills are considered one of his best strengths, in fact, and once he makes contact with a ball carrier, it is exceedingly rare for said ball carrier to not go down.
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