Coming from a family with links to former and current NFL players, Su’a Cravens is coming out of USC with plenty of accolades and individual achievements, and has about half the league wanting to take a look at him, including the New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins.
Cravens began his college career as a safety and had four interceptions as a freshman, making various All-American freshman teams along the way. His coaches strongly urged him to play up front and become a linebacker, so in his sophomore season, despite some early reluctance, he moved to something of a linebacker/safety hybrid role. The results immediately showed. He still picked off three passes, but finished also with five sacks and 17 tackles for a loss.
The same trend continued in 2015, finishing with 86 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 15 tackles for a loss along with five sacks. Teams are viewing him mostly as a linebacker as he heads into the league and goes from visit to visit. At the moment, he’s probably not going to be a first or even second round pick but as always, beyond the first round things are up for grabs and a lot of things can change from now until draft day, with plenty of room to move up for Cravens.
While he is an exciting prospect thanks to his hands, his tackling and his knack to take risks for making big plays, there are warning signs that show he needs work in order to become a good, lasting NFL player. He’s not as long as coaches like to see their pass rushing linebackers which could pose a problem, and his knack to always go for the big play can have counterproductive results. He’ll probably be a hit on special teams, and early on, it won’t be surprising to see him mostly in a 4-3 defense as the weakside linebacker.