With just days until the 2016 NFL Draft, the status of Su’a Cravens remains in flux as the debate over the instinctual, “tweener,” hybrid player continue.
Su’a Cravens hopes to hear his name called out during Day 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft, but the latest mock draft projections and scouting reports remain unclear.
Here’s a look at where Cravens stands heading into Thursday:
What Su’a Cravens did at USC:
Cravens was a three-year starter for the Trojans, making waves as a freshman safety before switching over the linebacker. There he earned two All-Pac-12 First Team nods as one of the nation’s most versatile defenders.
Though he missed out on All-American status, Cravens finished his career with 206 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss with 10.5 sacks as well as 16 deflections and nine interceptions. His accolades include two USC Defensive Perimeter Player of the Year Awards.
What Su’a Cravens could do in the NFL:
There are questions about Cravens’ NFL future, but those are mostly related to finding the right fit in the right system.
Having played safety and linebacker at USC in a hybrid role, Cravens is the textbook definition of a “tweener.” Not quite a safety, not quite a linebacker, different teams have varying perspectives on what position would serve him best.
Weakside linebacker is his most likely landing spot, with size being less of an issue if his playmaking instincts can take center stage.
Those instincts and great aggression could also be valuable if a team decides to slot him in as a strong safety, or hybrid of that position.
Either way, Cravens is expected to be a special teams contributor from the get-go while his positioning question is sorted out.
What the scouts say about Su’a Cravens:
“Plays with a unique lens that includes his time at the safety position as a freshman. Teams focusing on putting a ‘tweener’ label on him could be making a huge mistake considering his competitive nature and toughness.” — Lance Zierlein of NFL.com
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“Cravens moves up and down the field very well as a zone defender and has more than enough fluidity and physicality to win in man coverage. Debating his role at the next level is semantics. He is going to be a playmaker regardless of his formal position.” — Sporting News
“[Cravens] is a bit of tweener who posted below average speed (4.69) and jump numbers at his pro day, and while he shows quality playmaking instincts in coverage, he has limitations with his range in the back end. Cravens does physical mentality to hold up near the box where he lined up for the majority of snaps the past 2 seasons.” — ESPN
“Cravens doesn’t really possess a ton of outstanding attributes, which I think caused me to be low on him in the first place…That doesn’t mean Cravens is a bad athlete, he isn’t, but all the comparisons to [Deone] Bucannon or Troy Polamalu look pretty ridiculous when you watch the Trojan defender on tape…While Cravens isn’t an elite athlete, he does possess better range and fluidity than the majority of linebackers in the NFL.” — Jon Ledyard of USA Today
Where Su’a Cravens could get picked:
- Mike Tanier (Bleacher Report): Minnesota Vikings, 1st Round, 23rd overall
- Chris Burke (Sports Illustrated): Cleveland Browns, 2nd Round, 32nd overall
- Eric Galko (Optimum Scouting): Chicago Bears, 2nd Round, 41st overall
- Dave Birkett (Detroit Free Press): Detroit Lions, 2nd Round, 46th overall
- Mel Kiper (ESPN): Indianapolis Colts, 2nd Round, 48th overall
- Christopher Gates (SB Nation): Minnesota Vikings, 2nd Round, 54th overall
- Walter Cherepinksy (Walter Football): Carolina Panthers, 2nd Round, 62nd overall
- Charlie Campbell (Walter Football): Carolina Panthers, 2nd Round, 62nd overall