Mocking the Draft: Round Three—Back to the Future (Defense)

via National Football Post

Thursday’s post covered the offensive players who made cut from the big list. Today we’re back to defense, and if the prospect visits are any indication, the Steelers going defense in the first three rounds would scarcely be a surprise.

As you may recall, there was quite a long list of players mocked to the Steelers in Round 3, which I culled for a certain amount of practicality and handsomeness, as follows:

  • Charone Peake, WR (Kadar)
  • Scooby Wright, ILB (draftsite.com)
  • Kamalei Correa, OLB (PFF)
  • Sean Davis, FS (Invictus XI)
  • Deion Jones, OLB (Brown)
  • Vadal Alexander, OG/OT (Reuter)
  • Jordan Jenkins, OLB (Schmeltzer)
  • Jeremy Cash, S (SteelersWire)

I covered Peake and Alexander in the first post.. Today we take a closer look at the safeties. I included one whose name keeps popping up lately as a possible second round pick, Su’a Cravens.

CashJeremy Cash, S

Last year Cash decided to forego declaring for the NFL and stay at Duke another year. This was a good decision. In the meantime he made another decision which I find questionable, which is to grow one of those scraggly Abe Lincoln-type beards.

This seems to be a thing lately. Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates cut off his long locks, which made me sad, but it was for a good cause. Then he grew one of those beards for no reason at all, as far as I can tell. Basically, no one (including Abe Lincoln) looks good in that sort of beard. Perhaps the Steelers need to supplement the standard rookie clinics with a Brett Keisel Facial Hair Symposium. He could tell the new recruits whether their facial hair is going anywhere or whether they should just bail now.

</facialhairrant>

Sorry. Now on to what might be appealing about Cash, even if he decides to keep the beardlet.

Cash spent a year at Ohio State and decided to transfer. Because of the NCAA regulations, he didn’t play in 2012. He has graduated with a degree in psychology and is currently a grad student. Finishing his education was the reason he stayed at Duke, as he told the News & Observer:

“When it came down to it, we [he and his parents, girlfriend and her parents, all of whom he consulted] figured that education was so important, that education would take me further along in my life than football would,” Cash said at ACC media day. “And, therefore, I decided to stay and come back and get that extra degree paid for by Duke. I’m only three classes away from getting my master’s degree.“Life is this long,” he said, stretching his arms wide. “Football” – his hands shrunk like an accordion – “is this much of it.”…Talk can get a little silly at these media days – players literally spend hours just talking to TV people, radio people and writers – but Cash was dead serious. He graduated last May with a degree in psychology, and his masters is in liberal studies, with a focus on political science. His post-football plan: FBI agent.“At some point, people have to realize that football is going to end, and there is going to be a day where you put on the pads for the last time. And then what are you going to do? I didn’t want to be one of those people sitting there like a deer in headlights.”
Cash assumed he would be working with coach Jim Tressel when he went to Ohio State, but Tressel had just left. Cash played under the interim coach but decided he wasn’t going to mesh well with incoming head coach Urban Meyer. Instead he went to Duke and help to rebuild their football program:

Much like Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe, the offensive coordinator for Tennessee’s 1998 national champions, Cash brought grand ambition to a program unaccustomed to such.

“He’s doing everything you want a leader to do,” Cutcliffe said during preseason. “Jeremy sets the standard for how your team manages themselves, from the locker room to the equipment room. It sounds like an unimportant thing, but that’s huge. Those are all learned behaviors. That’s what really good leaders do.”

An article in the Daily Press gives more details:

Cornell Sneed, Cash’s older brother, calls it “Miami swag.”

“He wanted to set the tone,” Sneed said. “He wanted to turn a program that was all about basketball into ‘now we’re a football school, too.’ … He has a real winning mentality, and he’s always been like that.”

A former track and field athlete at East Tennessee State, Sneed is two years older than Cash and the first family member to graduate from college. Two master’s degrees later, he’s a life skills coordinator in the University of Memphis’ athletic department.

Sneed’s message to college athletes — sports is but a sliver of life — resonated long ago in his little brother, who sees far too many friends and acquaintances aimless on Miami’s streets.

Perhaps nothing says more about him than this quote, from an article in USA Today Sports:

“Honestly, when people ask me, ‘Hey, are you a football player,’ I always tell them, no,” he said. “I’m a student that plays football. I think there’s a difference. Because I don’t let football define the type of person that I am.”

As far as footbally stuff, NFL.com gave him a grade of 5.54, and said:

Very big and very physical. All about it every time he steps inside the box. Eye-­popping impact tackle production with 33 of his 98 tackles in 2015 coming for gains of two yards or less. Finished with 326 tackles and seven forced fumbles over last three years. Long arms and big hands for the position. Looks like a small linebacker on the hoof. Comes diving off the edge to upend running backs before they hit the crease. Plays with big closing burst when he smells blood. Runs through targets with force and can separate receivers from the catch. Brings the fight to FBs and move TEs who try to come at him. Rabid run­-supporter when he’s in attack mode.


Sean Davis, S

One thing we know right off about Davis is he’s smart. He is trilingual, speaking English, French, and Chinese. Not too surprisingly, he’s a communications major. That’s a lot of people he can communicate with right there!

He’s obviously a quick study as well, since he only started playing football as a junior in high school. After playing safety there he was moved to cornerback at Maryland, but projects as a safety in the NFL. He noted in an interview that he is more comfortable at safety.

I couldn’t find any depth of information about Davis outside of football, so let’s talk about that:

NFL.com gives him a rating of 5.58, and says:

Big, broad frame with absolutely shredded physique. Showed mental toughness. Bounced back from awful Bowling Green game to make numerous plays against South Florida the next week. Has size to battle against move tight ends. Leaps and challenges aggressively on 50/50 throws. Grabbed three interceptions in 2015. Around the ball and in the mix. Posted 298 tackles over three years as a starter. Comes firing downhill with purpose when it is time to get help against the run. Looks to lay the wood to receivers and make them feel it. Second in the nation with five forced fumbles. Has played safety and cornerback.
Miscast this season as an outside cornerback, Davis battled through adversity and bounced back with ball production, tackles and forced fumbles. Davis has the ability to cover, but his strengths would best be utilized at safety where he has fewer man responsibilities and can be deployed near the line of scrimmage a little more often. Davis is an eventual starter at safety and a big backup at cornerback.
CravensSu’a Cravens, S

I’m not sure how I missed Cravens before. He’s everything I look for in a prospect, and has made no unfortunate facial hair choices.

He played linebacker at USC but it is assumed he will be a safety in the NFL.

In a video he made when nominated for the Lott Impact Trophy, he talked about the legacy he wants to leave:

“A lot of football players are known as meatheads, but I want to be known as a good human. I care a lot about my family and I care a lot about my community.”

When asked “what drives him” he spoke about the Hall of Fame players he admires, but added:

“I want to be remembered not only for what I did on the field but what I did off the field—for charities, to be known as a great human being.”

When asked about his role models, he named his dad:

He’s probably the best man that I know. He sticks by his word and he’s 100% honest. He’s taught me to remain humble and, no matter what, be true to yourself.

His life philosophy:

To wake up with a positive attitude, to look at life with the cup half full and not half empty. Any situation you have, if you look at it in a positive manner it will be a lot easier.

Character counts for a lot of things—I think the most important is for the kids. They all look up to us—to them we’re like a superhero. People may not think that’s important, but it can shape a kid’s life. We can be a role model and not know it. They look at the way we treat people, and however we act, they try to act that way too. So the best thing we can do is be a positive role model

I found this interesting nugget in an LA Times article:

Asked to recall the “weirdest” question asked by a team, Cravens repeated the inquiry and then paused before answering.

“I’ve been asked if I’m a prima donna,” he said. “I get that coming from USC. People think a lot of USC guys are entitled. But things have changed since the glory days.

“So I think I’m a hard-working guy, to answer that, with a little swallow of my pride right there.”

 

Stack spent a day with Cravens before the combine and had some interesting things to say. First, he brought his dog with him, and the two are apparently inseparable. Here’s some more personal info:

“Everybody goes out to party. I don’t party. I don’t drink alcohol. There’s no point in me going out. I don’t want to be the person who is sober and everyone is drunk. It’s just not a crowd I really want to associate with. Me, I’m more of a relax at home, watch TV, play video games, watch cartoons or chill with my guys that I’ve known my whole life.”

When it was pointed out to him that he gets compared a lot to Troy Polamalu, he said:

“The fact that people see a little of him in me, I mean that’s humbling, but at the same time that’s a legend. You don’t get compared to a legend and be a bust,” he said. “So it just makes me want to compete even harder and drive myself to be great like that, and hopefully one day be better than him.”

He believes in himself:

“I just want to be great. I don’t need a speech, I don’t need money, I don’t need you to put anything in front of my face, like if you do this you’ll get this. I just want to be great,” he said. “I’m a competitor and I don’t like it when people are better than me. Right now I’m just going to be a rookie going into a league and hoping to make a team. That’s how it seems like I’ve been my entire life, from being a freshman trying to make a varsity team, to a freshman trying to get a starting spot—and I wouldn’t want it any other way because I’m going to fight for what I want.”

What NFL.com had to say:

They ranked him a 5.89, and noted he has three relatives who are currently in the NFL.

Born to be a football player. Combines smarts, instincts and toughness. Will not hesitate to jump into the mix and have proven his ability to make full­-time conversion to linebacker. Outstanding with his hands. Always first with his punch into blocker’s frame and unlocks instant arm extension to keep himself clean. Showed ability to engage blocker, shuffle with square pads and disengage for the tackle. Scouts believe he will comfortably carry over 230 pounds in pros. Big boy production comes from always choosing play-making option over passive route. Loves to play on the other side of the line when possible. Sticky hands and can take the ball away if you give him a shot. Posted nine interceptions in three years. Aware in zone coverage, but has some blitz value. Will have immediate impact on special teams coverage.

“He’s a lot of fun to watch because he processes quickly like an NFL linebacker and then just fires into the play. I’ve never really cared about the size at the WILL, I just want to know if they have instincts and can run and make plays. That’s it. He can do that.” — Former NFL general manager
Plays with a unique lens that includes his time at the safety position as a freshman. Teams focusing on putting a “tweener” label on him could be making a huge mistake considering his competitive nature and toughness. Cravens was highly disruptive and productive in each of his three seasons as a starter thanks to his tools/traits to act on his instincts. Cravens will help on special teams immediately and could become an early starter for a 4-­3 defense looking for a playmaking weak­-side linebacker.

It’s interesting that they seem determined to box him into the linebacker position. He seems willing to play whatever a team wants, and as we all know, we want defensive backs. I definitely like the looks of this one : )

To be continued. To see my coverage of Round One, click here and here and here.

For Round Two, click here and here and here.

 

 

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