Although Su’a Cravens has been a member of the Redskins for five weeks, the team’s coaching staff is still figuring out how to best utilize his diverse skill set.

And that, according to defensive coordinator Joe Barry, is a good problem to have.

“The thing that I have to be careful with, that I have to remember, is that he is a 20-year-old rookie,” Barry said of the second round pick. “He’s a kid that really should be going into his fourth year of college and getting ready for two-a-days back in L.A. So, I have to be careful with that because a guy like that you can do so many things with.”


Such as?

“You can play him at inside backer,” Barry added. “You can play him at outside backer, and rush him off the edge, or drop him into coverage. You can play him in the slot in a nickel position and do a bunch of things with him. So, right now, as a starting point, he’s playing our weakside linebacker, which we call ‘Mo’ in base [alignment]. And then he’s playing our weakside linebacker in nickel, which we call the dime linebacker.”

Indeed, the Redskins have big plans for Cravens. Although he’s listed as a safety on the team’s roster, he’s been working primarily at inside linebacker through the first two weeks of OTAs as the coaching staff attempts to teach him a new scheme from the inside out.


It’s a process. And it could take some time. But Barry sounds confident that it will eventually mold the 6 foot 1, 222-pound Cravens into exactly what they envision: a versatile playmaker that, perhaps, could be deployed similar to Arizona’s Deone Bucannon. The Cardinals designate the 6 foot 1, 220-pound Bucannon as a safety on the roster, list him on the depth chart as an inside linebacker and refer to his position as “moneybacker.”

Barry said Cravens’ biggest challenge right now is finding a comfort zone.

“I think as he learns and he picks up the system and the more comfortable he gets, the sky is the limit with all the different things you can do with him,” Barry said. “But we’ve got to remember, he’s a new kid coming in, learning the playbook, learning all new terminology. He’ll be the first one to tell you, the rookie minicamp, it was like we were speaking a different language, which is understandable. It’s hard for young guys at any position to come in and learn the terminology of a new playbook. I don’t care if you’re on offense or defense.”

“But,” Barry continued, “he’s a special one in the sense that he’s got God-given football awareness and instincts. He’s got natural stuff. Plus, he’s a great athlete, he’s tough, he can run, he can tackle, he can hit, he can blitz, he can play coverage. So, really, I think down the road moving forward, I think the sky is the limit on what we can do with him.”