A day after adding a playmaker on offense, the Redskins bolstered the defense, signing USC linebacker-safety Su’a Cravens in the second round.
Cravens, who is listed at 6 foot 1, 226 pounds, recorded 86 tackles, including 15 for loss, to go along with 5.5 sacks last season. He also made two interceptions in 2015, giving him a total of nine in three years with the Trojans.
There was much intrigue surrounding Cravens entering the draft because of his flexibility. The Redskins, however, have told the Los Angeles native that he’ll play dime linebacker in Washington.
“Probably every question at the combine was, ‘What positon do you want to play?’” Cravens said on a conference call with Redskins beat writers. “I’d say half of it was safety, half of it was Will linebacker. Not too many teams spoke to me about the dime linebacker position, so the fact that Washington called me, which I wasn’t expecting, and told me that’s where they wanted me to play …that’s a spot where I can fit right in the defense.”
Cravens added: “[At USC] I played 3-4 Sam ‘backer, so I was out in space a lot, covering the slot and making plays in open space.”
Cravens boasts a number of NFL family ties. His extended family includes Dolphins tight end Jordan Cameron, a cousin, Chargers linebacker Manti Te'o, a distant cousin, and former Bengals safety David Fulcher, his mother's second cousin.
Cravens has another key NFL connection: Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry recruited him at USC when Barry was an assistant with the Trojans in 2010.
“Joe, he recruited me when I was in high school,” Cravens said. “He left before I got to SC, but me and him built a relationship before he had left and he knows my family inside and out, so I got a real good feel from him when I met with Washington at the combine.”
Because of his size, Cravens is somewhat of a tweener—too small to play outside linebacker but a bit bigger than a typical strong safety. A recent trend in the pass-happy NFL has seen teams pursue these types of players because they can be deployed in the box and they can be used to cover tight end and running backs, as well. The prototype is Deone Buccanon; Cravens said he patterns his game after the Cardinals’ linebacker.
“I like that you can be a playmaker,” he said. “I like to be in space, I like to rush off the edge or defend the run. I think those are [the] things I do the best, and things that I excel at.”