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NFL Draft Scouting Report: Su'a Cravens, LB, USC

Former USC Linebacker Su'a Cravens is evaluated for the 2016 NFL Draft.

 

Su’a Cravens - USC

 

Position: Linebacker

 

Height: 6'1"

Weight: 225 lbs.

Year: Junior

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Experience: 3 years

 

 

Measurables:

40yd dash: DNP

Broad jump: 114 inches

Vertical: 27 inches

3-cone: DNP

20yd. Shuttle: DNP

Bench Press: 16 reps

 

 

Career Notes: A Third Team All-American and First Team All-Pac 12 player in both his 2014 and 2015 campaigns, Cravens filled up the stat sheet with tackles and sacks. He is a bit of a ‘tweener, but has speed and strength to make it work at linebacker in the NFL.

 

Leaving USC as a junior, Cravens will be a raw prospect and still has tremendous upside. More and more analysts compare him to USC legend Troy Polamalu, but his coverage skills are not nearly as proficient. While Cravens has the tenacity Polamalu had, the comparisons seem to be based more on a shared uniform than a shared style of play.

 

For as hard as he played, he suffered very minor injuries which suggest he will be a durable player in the league. As a rule, though, linebackers who throw themselves into the game generally have a shorter shelf life than their counterparts who play with some reservation. Cravens puts his all into a game and is not shy about using his head to take down players, which could draw flags and perhaps long term head issues.

 

 

Injury Report: Cravens missed a game against Oregon State in 2013 due to a hamstring injury. He missed half of a game against Washington State in 2014 with a knee injury, but made it to the field a week later against Cal.

 

 

Career Stats:

Full stats can be found at: http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/sua-cravens-1.html

 

 

Analysis:

Against the Run: 2.6/5.0

Cravens flashed ability to drive offensive lineman, get depth behind the line of scrimmage, and disengage to make tackles. He was not consistent in doing so, however, and disappeared for possessions at a time in the run game. His tackling ability made up for deficiencies in leverage, and he could often bring down runners with just one arm if they were within reach. He was neutralized by wide receivers in the run game multiple times in 2014 and 2015. His speed helped in recovering on plays run to the opposite side of the field.

 

Pass Rush: 2.6/5.0

If Cravens is on the edge, the offense will need to account for him in the passing game, he cannot be left alone. He wasted no time or movement in running and reacting to the quarterback. When he would not get to the quarterback in time for a sack, he would use his tremendous leap and reach to bat down passes. 10.5 sacks over his last 27 games jumps off the page, especially considering he was not a 3-down linebacker and he frequently was asked to drop into coverage. He occasionally flashed an inside move to pressure quarterbacks.

 

Coverage: 2.5/5.0

Cravens’s quickness lends itself to better recovery for mistakes in coverage. His reactions in zone are consistently quick, but he needs time to watch the play unfold. He was often slow in reading plays and got beaten because of it. In man coverage, he was handsy and did not track routes well all the time. He showed speed and quickness that, with technique, could have upside.

 

Agility: 4.0/5.0

Cravens’s fast feet showed up on film, whether in coverage, blitzes, or in tracking runners. When he did use proper technique in coverage, he showed flexibility in turning his hips smoothly to follow receivers.

 

Impact Play Ability: 3.0/5.0

Blitzing on either weak or strong side allowed Cravens to disrupt the pass game often enough to trust he will be functional in the league. He reacted quickly to throws and batted down passes intended to go over his head. On overload blitzes, quarterbacks rarely had time to release the ball before he got to them.

 

Overall Grade: 2.9/5.0

Cravens is workable in every facet of the game as a 3-4 weakside linebacker. In the run, he is inconsistent in filling gaps, but did it often enough to believe he could be coached up to succeed. Once engaged, he was easily neutralized by offensive lineman, and sometimes was blocked by receivers. He is not a premier pass rusher, but flashed the technique to slide off of blockers to pursue the quarterback. He has quick feet and flexible hips that make him ideal to cover tight ends and the occasional slot receiver, but lacked necessary technique and drew flags in coverage.

 

 

If drafted by the Packers:

Late in the first round, Cravens scratches the itch the Packers have needed at inside linebacker for two seasons since the decline and departure of AJ Hawk and Brad Jones. Some scouts have suggested Cravens fits as a safety in the NFL more than a linebacker, but Cravens would not be the first undersized linebacker to see serious play time. His tenacity as a tackler and his speed will keep him on the field for all three downs, regardless of passing or running situation.

 

As with most rookies, Packers fans would have to be patient with Cravens and live with mistakes early on. He took himself out of a lot of plays by over-pursuing angles and not being able to work through blocks once closed out. While he did show capability in coverage, he still has a lot of room to grow. Cravens would be as much of an investment as he would be a first-year contributor.

 

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Comments (15)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 02, 2016 at 02:13 pm

¨If drafted by the Packers Late in the first round¨ - I will probably have a stroke.

I cannot even find a reliable 40 yard dash time, but I have seen 4.69, 4.65 (this is the official pro day time) and 4.61. I have seen his vertical listed at 27" combine and 30.5" pro day, both terrible for a 6´1¨ 225 lb guy. His 3 cone of 6.91 and broad jump of 114¨ and 16 reps are decent #s, nothing outstanding. I can find no indication of an injury, yet he has refused to participate in private workouts for NFL teams (Oregonlive.com).

He is very fluid with very good change of direction. Cravens could be a box safety to replace Burnett (who ran a 4.51 forty, 39.5 vertical, 132¨ broad at 209 lbs and did 16 reps - so there is considerable disparity in athletic ability). He could be a will LB in a 4-3. Or he could be a hybrid S/ILB in sub-packages. After the GB coaches tried for ever to find a spot for Sean Richardson with limited to no success, I would be wholly unwilling to spend a 1st or a 2nd on Cravens.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

April 02, 2016 at 02:30 pm

That vertical though...

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Bearmeat's picture

April 02, 2016 at 03:13 pm

2nd round? Sure. 1st round? NO NO NO.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

April 02, 2016 at 04:38 pm

Also, how much better is he projected to be than Richardson, because Richardson went undrafted.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

April 02, 2016 at 08:44 pm

You may well be right, Drealyn. A lot of people I respect really like Cravens, and see him as a bigger Deone Buchanon. I just see a tweener. Maybe I am too old to project Cravens to some kind of hybrid role. I really like his fluidity but otherwise his athleticism seems to me to be wholly lacking. I cannot picture him playing mike or sam for us - so he would replace Thomas and/or Hyde I suppose.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

April 02, 2016 at 10:39 pm

I'm not saying he will or won't be better than Richardson. I honestly don't know anything about his play.

Either way, if he's just replacing Richardson's,Joe Thomas' and Micah Hyde's role I don't think that's worth such a high pick.

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dobber's picture

April 03, 2016 at 11:26 am

Could be the Packers sent Gunter away in January saying, "put on 10 lbs and you can be our chase ILB...." If he doesn't lose much speed (because he doesn't have much to begin with), he's already a leg up on Richardson who struggled in coverage (for a S).

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DrealynWilliams's picture

April 03, 2016 at 02:03 pm

I'd hate that idea. Not the idea of trying to get Gunter on the field more, but the idea of converting ANOTHER player into something they're not. I like Gunter and I think he's hard-nosed, but I don't think he could survive in the trenches.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

April 03, 2016 at 07:50 pm

Maybe he can gain 60 lbs and play the Elephant?

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DrealynWilliams's picture

April 03, 2016 at 08:52 pm

HAAA!! Well played.

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EdsLaces's picture

April 03, 2016 at 05:53 am

Agree 100%

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Bearmeat's picture

April 03, 2016 at 08:28 am

Cow. Stop making sense. You're messing with my world.

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dobber's picture

April 03, 2016 at 11:32 am

I agree with you to a point, but the times they are a-changin'. As rules shift even more in favor of the passing game, the old-school plodding ILB will be a dinosaur in this league, and the flexibility to be gained from smaller, faster LB/S hybrids is going to be even more important.

That said, I'm not sure Cravens is the answer, but he has a reputation as a instinctual play-maker with an aggressive mindset the Packer defense could use more of. Players over plays. Some scouts speculate that he could add up to 10 lbs without losing too much quickness or footspeed, but that's his game right now. Who would he be without it? ILB isn't a premium position and I wouldn't throw a 1st at this guy. If you can find a way to protect him (which I think is the key point you make as well) and use him for 3 downs, he might be worth it at #57. Most mocks have him going in the top half of round 2.

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ShawnO's picture

April 03, 2016 at 09:04 pm

Basically agree. With the depth at DL in this draft we have to take a strong look at OLB in the first. If we can find someone to take some snaps from peppers this year, replace him next year, and actually plays like a first rounder we would be golden. We have had better luck finding DL later in the draft (Daniels).

Though I do really like the idea of the safety turned ILB (Deon Buchanan) adding speed to our slow front 7 (other than Mathews). Cravens would be able to move all over keeping him on the field and keeping offenses guessing. He can play OLB once in a while, ILB on passing downs, and the hybrid S slot position on running downs. But I'm still not spending a 1st or trading up in the 2nd to get this guy where he is estimated to go.

I would be all about trading up in the second round for Jaylon Smith though!!

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holmesmd's picture

April 06, 2016 at 05:56 am

You would spend an r1 or r2 pick on a guy that can't play this season and may be JAG if/when he does?! Wow, that's some serious risk. Don't think TT would ever do that....;)

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