Atlanta Falcons 2016 scouting report: OLB Su’a Cravens
Could Su’a Cravens excel on the Atlanta Falcons defense?
There’s a growing interest by the day for teams as they desire linebackers to be more athletic and more instinctual. You’ve seen former strong safeties over years convert their skill set to the linebacker position and USC hybrid Su’a Cravens is the next prospect to add his name to the list.
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At least most assume that he will ultimately covert to the weak-side linebacker position. However, Kelsey Conway of Atlantafalcons.com reported that NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks believes Cravens can be the next Kam Chancellor for the Atlanta Falcons defense:
"“If you think about Dan Quinn and his defense, Su’a Cravens would give them a guy who is similar to Kam Chancellor in the role that he can play in the back-end,” Brooks said. “So, to me it would make sense that the Falcons would have Su’a Cravens on their radar.”"
Interesting notion from Brooks which adds to the multitude of questions as to where Cravens fits best: Weak side linebacker or strong safety. Let’s dive into his scouting report.
OLB/S Su’a Cravens, Southern California
Weight: 226 lbs
What he brings:
- Arguably the most standout skill of Cravens is his polished instincts. Which is often on display during run support. Cravens is rarely hesitant to tussle with tight end or offensive linemen when providing run support.
- Cravens provides exceptional arm length with 32 1/8 inch arms along with strong hands which measured at 9 1/2 inches.
- Cravens has totaled 207 career tackles in just three seasons of work at USC with an outstanding 32 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in the past two seasons alone.
- Shows solid effort to chase plays from the backside which is also a testament to his discipline as a defender.
- Displayed the ability to engage with blockers and disengage while also showing the facet of getting his hands on blockers which may give him the advantage in certain situations.
- Posted nine interceptions the past three seasons, solid and reliable in zone coverage.
- Cravens brings a disciplined tackling skill set as well as a reliable football IQ.
What he doesn’t bring:
- The size of course and at weighing in at 226 pounds at the Combine, it debunks to rumors of Cravens coming in at 240 lbs in his pre-Combine workouts.
- Must get stronger and added bulk if Cravens has a full-time assignment on the front seven.
- Cravens is a good athlete but not a twitchy athlete as other draft prospects at WLB (Darron Lee, Deion Jones, Antonio Morrison).
- More of an athlete for the linebacker spot instead of in the secondary.
- Has struggled sometimes in man coverage
- Will struggle getting off blocks at times which will improve when he improves his overall strength.
Bottom line: It’s easy to throw on the film of Cravens and like what you see. For an undersized guy with only two seasons of experience at the linebacker position, Cravens has shown enough qualities to convert to the position full-time.
I know most are thinking that at 226 pounds, he should be on the back-end as a strong safety. If drafted by the Falcons, it is going to be up to head coach Dan Quinn to find a spot for Cravens. If I were a betting man, I would lean towards the linebacker spot as his best traits are often on display more closer to the line of scrimmage than away from it.
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The Kam Chancellor comparisons are a little up in the air seeing as Cravens doesn’t have the strength, height, or other attributes that Chancellor possesses. Taking Cravens would be a win for the Falcons. Plug him in at weak-side linebacker and watch him make plays routinely.