Packers 2016 Draft: Top Prospects to Watch in CFB Bowl Games

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Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver

D.J. Foster

(left) is tackled by Southern California Trojans linebacker Su’a Cravens. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Su’a Cravens, LB/S, USC

Cravens is my wildcard pick for the Packers in the first round. At first glance, the USC product doesn’t seem like Green Bay’s cup of tea, only measuring in at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds. He also made the switch from safety to linebacker this past season.

However, I could see a scenario where the Packers take the former safety with a specific role in mind for their defense. The Packers love to run their nickel defense, and like how the Arizona Cardinals utilize Deone Bucannon on the field, Green Bay could use a linebacker/safety hybrid to line up as one of the inside backers in nickel looks.

Cravens is an athletic backer who can use his speed to chase down ball carriers or drop in coverage and shadow tight ends and slot receivers across the field.

He’d be a major asset to a defense that needs to get a bit more athletic. Just think of all the tight ends that have carved up the Packers defense this past season. It’d be nice to have another defender besides Micah Hyde that can lock up with these players.

Cravens also offers more as a run defender than Hyde, and brings more playmaking ability than Joe Thomas–Green Bay’s current dime linebacker. As a junior, Cravens not only recorded two interceptions and six pass breakups, but he also notched 5.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss.

Cravens may not be an ideal linebacker for Green Bay’s base 3-4 defense, but he could be a featured player in their nickel and dime subpackages.

Bowl Game: National Funding Holiday Bowl, Dec. 30th, 10:30 pm et. (ESPN) — USC vs. Wisconsin