The Redskins are not getting as much out of this year’s draft class as they did out of the class of 2015 when five picks played prominent roles as rookies. This year’s first-round pick, WR Josh Doctson, had two receptions before landing on injured reserve. Fifth-rounder DL Matt Ioannidis started the year on the practice squad, was brought up in Week 3, and he has played OK in 47 snaps on defense. QB Nate Sudfeld has yet to be active and seventh-round picks LB Steven Daniels and RB Keith Marshall have been in injured reserve all year.
Saving the draft class from being a total short-term flop are CB Kendall Fuller, who was taken in the third round and has been doing a good job as the slot corner, and LB Su’a Cravens.
Cravens has had a remarkable impact this year considering he has played just 134 snaps, about a third of the team’s total defensive plays this year. His lunging interception of an Eli Manning pass late in the Redskins’ Week 3 game against the Giants saved the team’s first win of the year. Against the Bengals in London he had a sack and he knocked down a pass in the late going, helping his team hang on for a tie in that game.
“I think I did alright,” said Cravens when asked to assess his season so far. “Obviously I’m a rookie and I’m going to make my mistakes but I think I’ve made the plays I’ve had the opportunity to. I know my playbook and I think I’m getting a little bit more comfortable out there with a lot more on my plate.”
Since coming to the team Cravens has said that his goal is to be “assignment perfect”. He’s not quite there yet.
“I think I average one mental error a game,” he said. “I’m getting there but I shouldn’t have any. If you ask me in college I’d say I didn’t have any mental errors. I’m trying to get back to that point.”
In addition to the fact that he is designated as primarily a nickel situation player, one of the reasons why Cravens’ snap count is relatively low is that he missed two games after suffering a concussion in Week 4. He also missed a lot of practice time after sustaining that injury. That has slowed his development somewhat, according to defensive coordinator Joe Barry.
“You know, that concussion was a little bit of a setback for him,” said Barry. “You’ve heard me stand up here before—with any player, but especially with young players, especially guys that are as young as 21 years old like he is, he needs to play. He needs to practice. He needs every single rep. So it was a little bit of a setback for him when he missed—what did he miss, two or three weeks. But Su’a is a gym rat. He loves football. He loves working at it. He loves practicing.”
Cravens knows there’s nothing he can do about the missed time. He will continue working on the same things he has been working on all year.
“Be focused, be a professional,” he said of his path going forward. “Just because you’re not on the field doesn’t mean you’re not a football player. I know it doesn’t define me but part of being a professional is being one on and off the field and I’m learning that.”