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3 things to know about Redskins second round pick Su'a Cravens

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3 things to know about Redskins second round pick Su'a Cravens

Over the next week, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir is featuring each of the Redskins’ 2016 draft picks and spotlighting three things you need to know about them. Up today…

Name: Su’a Cravens

Drafted: Second round (53rd overall)

School: USC

Position: Linebacker-safety

1—Since declaring for the draft in December, Cravens has been asked, oh, about a thousand times which position he'll play in the NFL. Well, five months later, his role is still probably best described as TBD, according to Redskins GM Scot McCloughan. “The thing that’s really cool about him is the diversity he brings—safety, linebacker, maybe a nickel linebacker, maybe a nickel corner,” McCloughan said Monday at Redskins Park. “We’re always talking about the first room he walks into. Is it the DB’s? Is it linebackers? But that’s a good problem to have, because again, he’s going to be out here making plays for us.” Although McCloughan isn’t ready to commit to a position for the 6-1, 226-pound Cravens just yet, the team has dropped a few hints as to their intentions. He’s listed on the team’s website as a safety and he’s been assigned jersey No. 36, which is typically reserved for defensive backs.

2—Cravens has football in his blood and seemed destined for athletic greatness from an early age. Not only was he Rivals.com’s No. 1 rated safety coming out of Vista Murrieta High (Calif.) and USA Today’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, his family tree features a number of accomplished football players. Cravens counts Miami tight end Jordan Cameron and San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o as cousins; he said both Cameron and Te’o reached out to him during the draft process to offer advice. Meantime, Cravens’ mother is related to former Bengals safety David Fulcher and his older brother, Siaki, was a defensive lineman at Hawaii and Utah. “Probably about a week before the draft, Troy Polamalu [a fellow USC product] reached out and texted me and said, ‘If you need to talk to me about anything, if you get flustered or frustrated, just call me if you need me,’” Cravens said at his introductory press conference. “So I’ve had a pretty good support system.” Pretty good? That’s an understatement.

3—Put on some USC film and one thing jumps out almost immediately: Cravens is ALWAYS around the football. In fact, the only thing more impressive than his instincts and athleticism are his stats. During his sophomore and junior seasons, Cravens totaled 154 tackles, including 32.5 for loss, to go along with 10.5 sacks, five interceptions and 15 pass breakups. Cravens believed his tape was good enough to make him a first round selection. And when that didn’t happen late last Thursday night, he immediately went to the gym to blow off some steam. “I looked at it as, I wasn’t good enough to go on the first day, so let me get into the gym tonight and let me prove that I’m good enough to go in the second day,” Cravens said. “I’m all about work. If I feel like I’m not working hard enough, I’ll get back to it.” If you're a Redskins fan, you've got to love that anecdote.    

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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

The Redskins spent modestly in 2018 free agency, and plenty of fans thought the team should have shelled out much bigger bucks. Talking with sources around the Ashburn facility, a prevaling notion became clear that the Washington brass believed they had a strong team in 2017, but they lost their chance to compete because of injuries. 

Well, the secret is out. Doug Williams said as much on Tuesday. 

"Coming out of Richmond last year, I liked this football team. I think we’ve got a tough football team, a smart football team. Some things you can’t control," Williams said Tuesday in a pre-draft media session. "We were very competitive up to a certain point, and when you have the injuries that we have, at a certain point, that competitive edge, you lose it because your best players are not playing."

Williams' words were true, and telling. 

First the true part:

  • In Washington's first five games of 2017, the team went 3-2. The Redskins only lost to eventual the Super Bowl champs Philadelphia and AFC West champs Kansas City. Washington only gave up more than 100 yards rushing once in those first five games, before rookie Jonathan Allen got hurt and the defense began to look much different. After Week 5, the Redskins only held one team under 100 yards rushing and finished the year dead last in rush defense.

Now the telling part:

  • The Redskins signed free agent WR Paul Richardson, and kept free agent LB Zach Brown. Beyond that, the team added inexpensive veterans in OLB Pernell McPhee and CB Orlando Scandrick. No splash moves, and recurring speculation that Washington was not offering top dollar to free agents. Bruce Allen acknowledged as much during NFL League Meetings when he explained that his team identified exactly how much they would offer free agents, their own and otherwise, and wouldn't go beyond that dollar figure. 

That means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is about this weekend's NFL Draft.

That also means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is not about Johnathan Hankins or any other free agent. 

"We’re going to deal with the draft now, and the second wave of free agents, if it’s somebody out there we feel like can help the Redskins,that’s what we’re going to do," Williams said. 

Throughout the offseason, Redskins fans wanted more action from their front office. It didn't happen, and Williams' basically explained why on Tuesday. The brass likes their team, and by default, expects better health and luck in 2018. 

When Williams talks about drafting the best player available, it's not just the typical NFL front office tripe. Right or wrong, the Redskins believe they have a team ready to compete in 2018, and any rookies that come in will only supplement that position.

"At the end of the day, I like this football team we’ve got. Like, last year when I walked out of camp, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I still feel the same way today," Williams said.

"At the end of the day, you get the best football player, and if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that’s all right. But if that’s the best football player that’s going to help your team overall, I think that’s the route you have to go."

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Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

The Redskins aren’t in the quarterback business, so it’s highly unlikely that they will look to trade up in the first round of the draft on Thursday. But their phones will be open for business to move down. 

Speaking at the team’s pre-draft press conference, Doug Williams didn’t rule out trading up from the team’s first-round spot at 13thoverall but he doesn’t think it’s likely. 

“The chances of trading up might be a little slimmer than trading down,” he said. 

Williams said that the phones in the room will be ringing and that they will listen to any offers. But usually the team that wants to move up initiates the call and because the Redskins are set at one particular position they probably won’t pick up the phone. 

“If we were in the quarterback business, which is what this league is about, if we were in the heavy quarterback business we’d talk about moving up,” he said. “At this time, we can sit back and see what comes up if we stay at 13.”

The Redskins are set at quarterback after they traded their third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller for veteran Alex Smith to replace the departed Kirk Cousins. Williams thinks that the Redskins already got good value from the pick. 

“When I think about Alex Smith, I say we got the best third-round pick in the draft,” he said. “I don't care what nobody says. You can't get a better third-round pick.”

Because they think they got a good player, albeit an older one, with that pick, the Redskins are not necessarily looking to make a deal to move back and recoup that pick on draft day. 

Williams emphasized that in order to move back, you have to have a team that wants to trade up. Often that is easier said than done. 

“They don’t just call you to ask you, they have to get a player that they want,” said Williams. “At that particular time, they’re afraid that somebody else might pick him. They might call you to ask you if you want to move back . . . If we move back, that’s because somebody called us to see if we want to move back.”

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.