In a little more than four months from now the 2016 NFL Draft will get underway in Chicago, IL and the mock drafts are already starting to pick up steam way ahead of that event with three weeks remaining in the 2015 NFL season.
On Tuesday, Pro Football Focus released their first mock draft version of the offseason and they have the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting USC safety/linebacker Su’a Cravens with the 20th overall pick in the first round.
Steve Palazzolo writes of the selection:
The comparisons to Troy Polamalu will be inevitable, but this pick goes beyond just the two players’ USC connection. Cravens is a versatile defender, capable of adding a physical presence in run support while showing the instincts to make plays in coverage.
Cravens, who reportedly measures in at 6-1 and weighs 225 pounds has said that he will forego his senior season and declare for the draft.
A three-year starter, Cravens earned Freshman All-American recognition at safety in 2013 and was a two-time All-Pac-12-Conference selection at linebacker. He’s expected to play safety in the NFL after registering 78 total tackles, 2 interceptions and 6 passes defensed in 2015.
The Steelers could certainly use another safety in 2016 being as Shamarko Thomas hasn’t lived up to expectations in addition to veteran Will Allen possibly not being re-signed during the offseason. While Robert Golden has filled in admirably at times this season for Allen, he’s not a long-term starter. Additionally, Golden, like Allen, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2015 season.
Cravens is certainly an intriguing safety prospect and it will be interesting to see how he runs at the combine in February being as there are questions right now about his long speed.
The Steelers haven’t drafted a safety in the first round of a draft since Troy Polamalu was selected with the 16th overall selection in 2003.
We will have a full breakdown and profile of Cravens during the offseason as part of our pre-draft coverage.