It is said in football that depth is a must. After all, it is the nature of the beast. Injuries can happen at any time, from mini-camp and training camp, to practice and games. A team HAS to be prepared for that eventuality.
While the San Diego Chargers were bitten by that bug, most often on the offensive side of the ball (particularly the last two seasons), there were stretches where the defense was banged up, as well. The offseason has seen the Bolts part ways with Donald Butler and Kavell Conner. Of the linebackers currently on the roster, half will be second-year players and at least three of them had limited playing time due to injury.
So, what do you do if you are in Tom Telesco’s shoes?
Maybe you look for someone who can fill the bill in the form of Su’a Cravens.
Weight: 225 pounds
40-yard Dash: 4.65 seconds*
Arm size: 32 1/8 inches”**
Hand size: 9 1/2″ inches**
Vertical jump: 30 1/2 inches”*
Broad jump: 114″ inches**
*Pro Day **Combine
The former USC Trojan converted from linebacker to safety late in his college career. Has room to fill out his frame. A natural playmaker, he is instinctive, tough and smart. Aggressive and athletic, a blitzer. Will not hesitate to jump into the mix. Very physical dropping back and does a great job in press coverage. Would be able to hold his own in man coverage against tight ends and wide receivers. Outstanding with his hands. Ability to engage and quickly disengage his blocker.
What could possible be a weakness for Cravens? Well, the fact that many people aren’t sure where to place him on their D could be considered a problem. Being tagged as a tweener could be tough. Linebacker or safety? His speed is not impressive, at all, and his size for the linebacker position may be a problem at the NFL level. Additionally, he struggles to finish plays while defending the run, occasionally taking poor angles. Knowing that he is still learning the linebacker position, it will take him time to adjust to the power and quickness of the pros, especially when thinking about his ability to shed the blocks of NFL offensive lineman.
Su’a Cravens has a great deal of positional flexibility to offer any defense. The rub will be that he would need to go to a team that can take advantage of his ability to shift back and forth between linebacker and safety. Putting in reps on special teams while adjusting to the speed of the NFL — plus having distant cousin Manti Te’o to learn from and encourage him — would be something for the potential draftee to look forward to.
Hearing Su’a Cravens’ name called as the next citizen of San Diego this week during the draft would certainly help the Chargers’ defense.
Thanks for reading!