When Su'a Cravens went through the pre-draft process two years ago, he was listed as a linebacker. That status reflected part of his responsibilities during his years playing for USC, when he handled linebacker and safety duties.
There was a time when Cravens might have been called a "tweener" -- too light for linebacker, too big for safety. But as the game continues to evolve and defenses need players who exist somewhere between the templates of safety and linebacker, Cravens, a 6-foot-1, 224-pounder, fits the bill.
With Darian Stewart and Justin Simmons sitting atop the depth chart at safety, he likely will not settle into the starting lineup right away, but he has a chance to work into the Broncos' six-defensive back sub package. That could leave him in a competition with fellow 2016 draft pick Will Parks and second-year veterans Jamal Carter and Dymonte Thomas for playing time.
"I'm anticipating being a strong safety. On third down, when teams get into sub packages, I'm expecting to play dime linebacker and cover tight ends and running backs -- kind of like what I did my rookie year with the Redskins," Cravens told KOA-AM 850. "But predominantly safety and whatever they need to get down in that box and be a run stopper, blitzer and whatever else they need to help aid the defense."
Cravens could be well-suited to work in that sub package, which would likely have him playing at least half of the downs. His size, physicality and coverage ability make him one of the NFL's most unique young defensive backs, and he has the potential to match up well with opposing tight ends.
Few players have Cravens' size and well-rounded skill set, which is one of the reasons why the Broncos acquired him. The fact that Cravens has three years left on his rookie contract -- signed after Washington took him in the second round two years ago -- doesn't hurt, either, as Cravens is young, and possesses plenty of untapped potential.
Cravens' role should evolve and potentially expand as he grows with the Broncos, but for now, he fills a pressing need, as the Broncos struggled to cover tight ends last year.
Six different tight ends scored touchdowns at Denver's expense last season. Cravens should help change that.