While not the powerhouse that it once was, USC is still a great program for developing top of the line prospects. Last year Leonard Williams led the charge, going on to be a top 10 pick while getting himself in the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation. This year’s premier prospect out of soCal isn’t quite that caliber, but Su’a Cravens is one of the more intriguing prospects in the class due to his versatility and label as a “tweener”.

Cravens is a tricky prospect to read. Most view him as an outside linebacker, but some view him as a safety. His film doesn’t jump out at you, but he definitely shows signs of flashes, although he displays some big weaknesses as well. He does have a high ceiling and still has room to develop, but to me he looks like a hit or miss type prospect.

Name: Su’a Cravens
College: USC
Size: 6’1”/225
Class: Junior
Projection: Late 1st round-early 2nd round
Comparison: Shaq Thompson

Strengths

  • Coverage
  • Athleticism
  • Versatility
  • Blitzing
  • Press/Physicality
  • Instincts

Weaknesses

  • Speed
  • Tackling
  • Finishing plays in run defense
  • Angles
  • Fooled on read plays

The way he plays the game is very reminiscent of Shaq Thompson, a first round pick last year out of Washington. They both have very similar styles and we’re both LB/S tweeners leading up to draft day. Thompson has played linebacker for Carolina this year, the same position where I project Cravens.

Where Cravens excels at is in coverage. I love what I see from him in man coverage. He’s very physical dropping back and does a great job in press coverage. If matched up against TEs and even WRs at the next level, he would have no trouble in that department of the game. His athleticism jumps out at you as well. I’ve seen multiple occasions where he leaps over the offensive line to get into the backfield – although he struggles at finishing plays when defending the run. That’s something he really needs to work on along with his tackling technique. His athleticism makes him a lethal blitzer.

There are some big weaknesses in Cravens’ game that makes him a boom or bust prospect. He’s not the fastest and he’s not the biggest out there on the field. While he’s great in coverage, he really struggles against the run. Often times he’ll get himself in a great position to make a stop, but has trouble finishing off the play – as noted earlier. He gets fooled a lot on read options and takes bad angles when in pursuit of the ball carrier.

Like Thompson, Cravens will go to a team as more of a luxury pick to a team who is willing to take a chance on him. The potential is undeniable, but he is a risk as well. Hopefully for him the team that drafts him has a clear plan on what his role will be in their defense. I don’t think he has the build to play safety, he is better suited at outside linebacker on either side in a 4-3 scheme. This tweener could slip into the tail end of the 1st round, but he’s more likely to be taken in the 2nd – especially if he “wows” at the combine.

About The Author Jonathan Valencia

Jonathan has been investing his time in sports writing for the past decade. Breaking Football's lead writer covers anything from the NFL Draft to providing fantasy football insight. Born and raised in the Jersey Shore. Follow him on Twitter @JonValencia_WiB to talk anything football.