Cravens has the potential to be a great player for USC, but what exactly is it that makes him a 5-star recruit?
Let's break it down.
Speed is an integral trait for any defensive back, let alone a 5-star safety like Cravens. 247Sports has him down for running a 4.50 40, which is very good. More importantly, though, it's on par with what many of the receivers in this recruiting class are running.
As a safety at the next level, Cravens will have to be able to stay on top of any deep routes that come his way. And if he couldn't keep up, he would become a liability. Thankfully, that doesn't appear to be an issue, as he possesses very good speed.
Safety isn't the only position Cravens can play. There's film of him playing running back, wide receiver and even linebacker, which, all in all, points to him having incredible athleticism.
This is important because, in many cases, you'd like your safety to be one of the most athletic players on the field. Not only is he charged with covering receivers, but truly effective safeties can come down into the box and make plays against the running game or even as a pass-rusher.
This transitions nicely into the next point...
Cravens is a very aggressive football player, which leads to him making a lot of plays. He's not afraid to stick his foot and come down strong to the line of scrimmage to make a play against a running back—and that's one of the keys to being a great safety. Sure, deep coverage is usually their main responsibility, but the really great safeties find a way to get down to the line of scrimmage and make plays.
In Cravens' case, his speed and athleticism make him a very viable option for a blitz off the edge. And I wouldn't be surprised to see USC use him in that capacity. He'll also be able to come into the box and fill a running lane, which can be attributed to his ability to play linebacker.
In the play below you can see an example of him coming off the edge. He uses his speed to get a good jump, but then notice in the second player he gathers himself, as to not overrun the tackle. This is called coming to balance.
Finally, he closes in on the ball-carrier and makes a great, fundamental tackle.
What it boils down to is that Cravens is in no way a timid player, and that's going to play huge dividends for him at USC.
All great safeties and defensive backs in general are ball hawks. What makes them so good is that they are constantly around the football as defenders, and when they get the chance, they know how to make a big play with it.
Whether it be reading the quarterback's eyes perfectly to snag an interception, making a clutch tackle or even coming away with a fumble, Cravens finds a way to get around the ball and make something happen.
This is one of the main traits that separates great defensive backs from average ones. Cravens is a playmaker, and he's going to be a difference-maker for USC once he gets on the field.
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