Active in the defensive backfield so far during OTAs, 2016 second-round pick Su'a Cravens has been around the ball during unit drills at practices as he nails down some of the nuances of being back at safety.
After spending his rookie season with the Washington Redskins as a situational inside linebacker, Su'a Cravens has made the full-time move to safety this offseason.
The 21-year-old, of course, played safety during a productive collegiate career at USC, but moving slightly back in the defensive scheme, understandably, takes time to feel comfortable with over months of offseason work.
But over the first two weeks of OTAs, Cravens has shown no issues with being placed back at safety, this time in the NFL.
"I like what he's doing right now," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden last week. "You know, we're out here without pads on, and we know the importance of being able to tackle at safety, so we obviously can't see that and the angles. Based on his football knowledge and his skill set, I think he'll be a good tackler. I think the key for him is his angles and playing coverage and playing in the post, playing two-deep, playing quarters, all those different things and seeing how he does, seeing how he reacts to the ball."
Last week, Cravens showcased his ballhawking abilities, picking off a pair of passes during Tuesday's OTA session at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., according to Gruden.
The hope is that plays like that will translate over to the regular season on a defense that is focused on creating more turnovers.
Last season, only two of Washington's 13 interceptions came from safeties.
In 40 career games at USC, Cravens recorded nine interceptions.
"I feel him around the ball a lot," Gruden said. "We'll get the pads on, see his run fits. I feel his presence there, but we've still got to see him wrap up and tackle, which obviously based on his track record he can do."
With the 2017 NFL Combine set to start next week, Redskins.com will look back at past Redskins that attended. Today, it's Su'a Cravens.
Along with struggling to create turnovers at times last season, Washington had numerous safety pairings in the backend of the defense. With players transitioning in and out of the huddle, it sometimes made communication in the huddle a little more difficult.
But the hope this year is that Washington has two young safeties – Cravens and free agent signing D.J. Swearinger – that will be mainstays in the starting lineup with others like DeAngelo Hall and Will Blackmon coming in for situational needs.
"The safety role has to be a big communicator to be a leader and you've got to be on top," Swearinger said.
If Cravens can prove to be a strong communicator alongside Swearinger, it will bode well for the third youngest player on Washington's 90-man roster. He certainly has the athletic ability to be a game changer on the field, his interception off New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning in a Week 3 victory last season as example, but learning how to keep the defense properly aligned is another step in his progression.
"I love his athletic ability," Swearinger said. "I can tell he's going to be making some plays in this defense. We've just still got to keep talking. It's a little new for him back in space. But with his talents, with his smarts, he should be able to get it in no time."