Su'a Cravens 2016 NFL Draft Profile

Overview
Position: Outside Linebacker
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 225 pounds
School: USC Trojans

Combine Performance Data

Bench press (225 pounds): 16 reps

Su’a Cravens 2016 NFL Draft Profile

Su’a Cravens had an immediate impact when he got to USC. He was already the USA Today National High School Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, prior to graduating a semester early and entering SC early in 2013. By the time his Freshman season started he had already secured a starting spot at strong safety. He made a few Freshman All American teams and was all conference honorable mention.

USC turned Cravens into a hybrid player, utilizing him as both a safety and linebacker, sometimes within the same series on defense. Cravens openly wasn’t sold on playing both positions but his athleticism was so good that he led the team with 17 tackles for a loss. Add in five sacks and three interceptions and Cravens was first team all-conference as a sophomore and third team AP All American.

With his strength clearly at linebacker, Cravens settled into the one position for his junior season, although his ability to cover wide receivers allowed the Trojans to drop him back into pass coverage enough that he blended in with the defensive secondary at times. Again, he led the team in tackles with 86, including a season high 13 against Stanford. He also had five –and-a-half sacks and two interceptions. Ironically, Cravens was a vocal advocate of USC hiring interim coach Clay Helton as the permanent replacement for Steve Sarkisian, telling some it might persuade him to come back for his senior season. Helton was named the new head coach at the end of the regular season and then Cravens announced, via Twitter, that he would forgo his senior season about 10 days before the Trojans lost to Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl.

Strengths

  • Very athletic
  • Good footwork
  • Very good with his movement in space. Allows him to cover wideouts, as well as running backs out of the backfield.
  • Strong edge rusher
  • Quick hands
  • Very instinctive

Weaknesses

  • Gets stuck at point of attack with offensive linemen
  • Relies on his instincts too much. Causes him to bite on play action too easily.
  • Relies on his aggressive style too much. Willing to dive at a player, and potentially miss, leaving gaps in the defense.
  • Needs to add 5-10 pounds so as to be able to better take on blocks instead of drifting around them.

NFL Comparison: Lavonte David, Tama Bay Buccaneers

Teams with Need at Position: Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers

Projection: Mid 2nd Round

Bottom Line

If Cravens adds that weight he can be a very good outside linebacker in the NFL. There are other teams that need help at OLB, (Jacksonville, Baltimore, New York, Chicago), but we have Jaylon Smith, Myles Jack, Leonard Floyd and possibly Joshua Perry going ahead of Cravens, so we moved on to teams with early to mid-second round picks that need help at the position. Cravens has more than enough skill for the next level, but he is going to have to learn to become more disciplined in staying within the schemes. When you are the most athletic player on the defense in college, you can get away with drifting and relying on your athleticism to make plays. In the NFL, Cravens is going to need to learn better technique in getting through blocking instead of always relying on his speed to get around it. The right 4-3 defense could be getting a quick impact play maker at weakside linebacker.

 

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Main Photo Credit:

Main Photo Caption: LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 13: Stephen Anderson #89 of the California Golden Bears drops a pass in front of Su’a Cravens #21 of the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 13, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)