Over the next week, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir is featuring each of the Redskins’ 2016 draft picks and spotlighting three things you need to know about them. Up today…
Name: Su’a Cravens
Drafted: Second round (53rd overall)
1—Since declaring for the draft in December, Cravens has been asked, oh, about a thousand times which position he'll play in the NFL. Well, five months later, his role is still probably best described as TBD, according to Redskins GM Scot McCloughan. “The thing that’s really cool about him is the diversity he brings—safety, linebacker, maybe a nickel linebacker, maybe a nickel corner,” McCloughan said Monday at Redskins Park. “We’re always talking about the first room he walks into. Is it the DB’s? Is it linebackers? But that’s a good problem to have, because again, he’s going to be out here making plays for us.” Although McCloughan isn’t ready to commit to a position for the 6-1, 226-pound Cravens just yet, the team has dropped a few hints as to their intentions. He’s listed on the team’s website as a safety and he’s been assigned jersey No. 36, which is typically reserved for defensive backs.
2—Cravens has football in his blood and seemed destined for athletic greatness from an early age. Not only was he Rivals.com’s No. 1 rated safety coming out of Vista Murrieta High (Calif.) and USA Today’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, his family tree features a number of accomplished football players. Cravens counts Miami tight end Jordan Cameron and San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o as cousins; he said both Cameron and Te’o reached out to him during the draft process to offer advice. Meantime, Cravens’ mother is related to former Bengals safety David Fulcher and his older brother, Siaki, was a defensive lineman at Hawaii and Utah. “Probably about a week before the draft, Troy Polamalu [a fellow USC product] reached out and texted me and said, ‘If you need to talk to me about anything, if you get flustered or frustrated, just call me if you need me,’” Cravens said at his introductory press conference. “So I’ve had a pretty good support system.” Pretty good? That’s an understatement.
3—Put on some USC film and one thing jumps out almost immediately: Cravens is ALWAYS around the football. In fact, the only thing more impressive than his instincts and athleticism are his stats. During his sophomore and junior seasons, Cravens totaled 154 tackles, including 32.5 for loss, to go along with 10.5 sacks, five interceptions and 15 pass breakups. Cravens believed his tape was good enough to make him a first round selection. And when that didn’t happen late last Thursday night, he immediately went to the gym to blow off some steam. “I looked at it as, I wasn’t good enough to go on the first day, so let me get into the gym tonight and let me prove that I’m good enough to go in the second day,” Cravens said. “I’m all about work. If I feel like I’m not working hard enough, I’ll get back to it.” If you're a Redskins fan, you've got to love that anecdote.
Now that the 2016 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, the Redskins are plodding away toward the start of training camp, and eventually, the beginning of the 2016 NFL season.
But before that can begin, the players who saw their lifes change for the better in Chicago, Illinois this weekend have to get fitted for new jersey numbers.
On Tuesday, the Redskins announced the jersey numbers each rookie and free agent signing will wear, along with the few players who have changed jersey numbers:
— No. 2, QB Nate Sudfeld (Rd6, No. 187)
— No. 18, WR Josh Doctson (Rd1, No. 22)
— No. 20, CB Greg Toler (FA)
— No. 24, CB Josh Norman (FA)
— No. 29, S Duke Ihenacho (Change from No. 24)
— No. 30, S David Bruton Jr. (FA)
— No. 34, DB Kyshoen Jarrett (Change from No. 30)
— No. 36, S Su'a Cravens (Rd2, No. 53)
— No. 38, CB Kendall Fuller (Rd3, No. 84)
— No. 39, RB Keith Marshall (Rd7, No. 242)
— No. 46, LB Willie Jefferson (FA)
— No. 52, LB Terence Garvin (FA)
— No. 53, LB Steven Daniels (Rd7, No. 232)
— No. 60, OL Cody Booth (FA)
— No. 63, NT Jerrell Powe (FA)
— No. 73, DL Ziggy Hood (FA)
— No. 83, TE Marcel Jansen (Change from No. 85)
— No. 85, TE Vernon Davis (FA)
— No. 97, DE Kendal Reyes (FA)
— No. 98, DT Matt Ioannidis (Rd5, No. 152)
When it comes to drafting running backs, Scot McCloughan prefers low-mileage models.
Last year, McCloughan took Matt Jones, who had 297 rushing attempts in three seasons at Florida, in the third round. This year the running back pick was Keith Marshall, a seventh-round pick who carried the ball 253 times in four years as a Georgia Bulldog.
In contrast, Heisman Trophy winning back Derrick Henry had 395 carries in 2015 alone.
Of course, Henry got the ball a lot because he was consistently productive for the Crimson Tide. Injuries kept Marshall from having a bigger role at Georgia and Jones couldn’t break out of a running back by committee arrangement with the Gators.
McCloughan sees the positive in each of his backs’ situations.
“The thing I like about it, and it was the thing with Matt Jones last year, is the amount of carries he’s had,” he said when asked about Marshall’s lack of college production. “He hasn’t been beat up. With running backs, it’s so important to have the health. The more hits you take, the worse off it is. Again, we’ll see how it shakes out.”
McCloughan may just be trying to put some lipstick on a pig here in talking about the Redskins’ still uncertain running back situation. But it’s a fact that heavy college workloads taken on by backs like Henry do drop their draft stocks. So it makes sense that all other things being equal a back who had a light workload prior to entering the draft should be somewhat more valuable.
As McCloughan said, we’ll see how it shakes out.