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Play of the day: Cravens showing why the Redskins drafted him

Jul 30, 2016, 12:41 PM EDT

Cravens minicamp AP

RICHMOND—During practice on Friday rookie linebacker Su’a Cravens flashed some of what the Redskins hope they see out of him when September comes around.

He had the two highlight plays of the day. On one, Colt McCoy tried to get a pass off to a running back. Cravens read the play and made a leaping interception. It could have been a pick six but it was hard to say since there were a lot of players and coaches standing where Cravens would have returned it.

A few plays later, veteran tight end Vernon Davis caught a pass in front of Cravens and turned upfield. The rookie made a quick move and punched the ball out of Davis’ arm, setting up an easy recovery for the defense.

Here is where the disclaimer that they were practicing without pads and it was the second day of training camp goes. Still, it shows why they got Cravens.

The Redskins drafted Cravens in the second round. That’s pretty high for a player who doesn’t have a set NFL position. If he is going to justify that draft pick he will have to make plays like he did on Friday.

The Redskins weren’t bad in the takeaway department last year. They recovered a league-leading 16 fumbles and had 11 interceptions. Their 27 total turnovers were eighth in NFL.

But NFL teams always want more takeaways. If they get two in a game they will wish they had gotten three. If they get three they will think they had a chance to get five.

More is better and if you can get a defender who can create turnovers in the second round it is well worth it.

Cravens has been playing mostly at inside linebacker during OTAs, minicamp, and so far at training camp. The idea is for him to learn the defense from the inside out before learning other positions. His exact role has not yet been determined. But they will put him in positions where he can make plays like he did yesterday and hope that good things will follow.

  1. goback2rfk - Jul 30, 2016 at 12:50 PM

    Cravens is a great pick. I would love to see what he could do at Strong Safety. If he turns out to be a great hybrid type player I could see him being one of the best pickups from the draft for the Skins.
    To bad this post did not come with a little 5 second video highlight of some of the plays

    • Uptowntrey - Jul 30, 2016 at 1:46 PM

      Wat he said ⬆⬆⬆

    • Trey Gregory - Jul 30, 2016 at 2:13 PM

      I like the idea of him staying at ILB. I think that’s a good fit for him. He’s a little slow to play safety but plenty fast to be a linebacker. He would be a huge asset covering TEs. We could also use quick linebacker like him to shoot through the gaps and blitz.

      Now, he’s a little small to play ILB but there are other guys his size doing it, and excelling. The goal would be to shut down the pass more than the run. And he wouldn’t necessarily have to come off the field for nickel or some packages. That’s where the hybrid part comes in. I can’t completely decide if he’s better suited as a Will or Sam backer. Because he’s still a bit of a mystery to me. I don’t completely know what to expect. But I’m thinking Will for now. Anyone have any thoughts on wether that’s a good or bad idea?

      • chris - Jul 30, 2016 at 5:27 PM

        He might be slow to be a true safety but his instincts and his ability to read plays will make up for it by being at the right place at the right time.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 31, 2016 at 12:18 AM

          I guess we’ll see. That’s what we’re all hoping for. But I don’t know that to be true yet. I haven’t even seen him play a preseason game yet. Much yet a single real NFL snap. That’s what I was saying: Cravens is a huge mystery to me. I’m trying to have fun and just project a bit but I really have no clue. And I don’t think anyone else outside of the team does either. There’s more options and scenarios with him than normal rookies.

          I’m kind of hoping for linebacker this year because our front 7 needs to get better. But it would probably be better for the long term if he played safety. There’s also a chance he doesn’t do a whole lot this year. He has a lot to learn. It should be a bad sign if he can beat out our top 3 ILBs and top 2 safties. Especially to start the season.

      • bangkokben - Jul 31, 2016 at 7:51 PM

        I’m pretty sure the ‘Will’ and ‘Sam” linebackers are outside linebackers in the Redskins’ system. Compton is the ‘Mike’ and under Haslet’s defense the other ILB was the ‘Jack’. Whatever position Cravens will play, we will eventually hear the name of it but I’d be surprised if it’s any of the names mentioned. As soon as he makes plays, we will know the name of his position though.

        • Rich Tandler - Jul 31, 2016 at 8:04 PM

          Barry changed terminology so the ILBs are Mike and MO.

        • Trey Gregory - Jul 31, 2016 at 8:27 PM

          Right. Sorry I still call them Will and Sam because I learned 4-3 first and it’s just familiar to me. I should have specified. It’s not so much the exact name as where they line up and what they do that I was talking about. I simply meant would he be better suited to line up in the strong side or weak side.

          I assume the weak side, as he’s lighter thus shouldn’t be as good against the run and is more athletic to cover slot receivers if he needs to. But he could also be very useful covering TEs off the strong side.

        • bangkokben - Jul 31, 2016 at 8:29 PM

          Yeah. I think it will be a hybrid depending on the match-up and he’ll be on both sides.

        • Trey Gregory - Aug 1, 2016 at 1:56 AM

          Yeah. I was just letting my mind wander a bit with the possibilities of what he may contribute. In reality it doesn’t matter what we call him. He can be a linebacker or a safety in a nickel or dime package and do the exact same thing. That’s why players like him (or what we hope he will be) are so valuable. The offense won’t know if he’s blitzing, covering the Y receiver, the RB, dropping into part of a cover 3, defending the flat, there for run support…. Having him on the field shouldn’t tip anything.

  2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 30, 2016 at 1:57 PM

    a player who doesn’t have a set NFL position

    Safetybacker!
    ~

  3. Lex - Jul 30, 2016 at 2:09 PM

    Keep him at LB we need more speed, pass coverage and blitzing from the position. 3rd and short youll obviously take him out. For those of you who think hes to light to play the position ….. See Shawn Barber

    • Rich Tandler - Jul 30, 2016 at 2:27 PM

      Barber was a 4-3 outside LB who was an inch taller and 20 pounds heavier than Cravens. Other than that it’s a perfect comparison. :)

      We’ll see but I’m skeptical Cravens can spend a whole lot of time at ILB in non-nickel situations.

      • Trey Gregory - Jul 30, 2016 at 3:02 PM

        That’s still most of the defensive snaps at ILB though right? And where would you have him in base? At safety or on the bench?

        • bangkokben - Jul 31, 2016 at 8:04 PM

          Initially he’ll be on the bench in base. Nickle is going to be interesting though. Smith and Kerrigan will likely have their hands in the dirt. Norman, Breeland, and a slot corner along with Hall at free safety. Compton will be on the field. So is it Bruton and Cravens or Foster and Cravens or does it depend? We all look forward to it.

  4. Andre farmer/philly - Jul 30, 2016 at 6:22 PM

    I hope that he steps up big time!!!

  5. Mr.moneylover - Jul 31, 2016 at 10:24 AM

    Su’a Cravens gonna play every where… He said his playbook is setup for him to learn Inside linebacker , safety and a lil bit of pass rush …once he get use to learning ILB witch is the first part of his playbook they gonna move him to the second part….the good thing is hes picking up things faster then what ppl thought…I hear my guy jarrell powe looking good on the D-line along with Ricky jean Francois

  6. Mr.moneylover - Jul 31, 2016 at 10:45 AM

    Su’a Cravens gonna play everywhere…his playbook is mixed with everything he can do…he said the first part of his playbook got him learning ILB …just know when he’s in the game its gonna be to benefit him and our defense…Desean Jackson has looked unstoppable in training camp so far this guy seriously pissed off and feels disrespected he’s gonna make teams pay just like he did when he was with the Eagles ….they double Djax Jordan Reed gonna be one on one and jordan reed footwork/route running is crazy jordan will win that matchup all game long…Niles paul the big bully i call him hes hard to tackle but he was jordan reed before Jordan reed …ppl forgot Niles Paul had a big breakout year before he got injured and raned great routes as well …with the depth at TE this year I expect them to go back into a three TE sets that’s when redskins was unstoppable our running game average in yards was over 100 yards per game the first 2 games of the season ….this year I think its gonna be about letting kirk cousins throw the ball if he have too…running game is the main focus

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