Among the Falcons' biggest needs on defense are linebackers and safeties, and there's one player in this year's draft class who could fill both of those needs.
His name is Su'a Cravens.
Cravens is one of the most intriguing prospects due to his versatility that allows him to be a dominant player at both positions.
As we've seen over the past couple of years, the NFL is a passing league, and a team's ability to counter a strong passing attack ultimately can decide their fate.
The 6'1, 225-pound dynamic playmaker began his career at the University of Southern California as a strong safety, where he had 52 tackles and four interceptions in his first season. Cravens moved to a hybrid safety-linebacker role his sophomore season and shined. He led his team with 17 tackles for loss, five sacks and three interceptions. The former Trojan had his best season in 2015, his final year at USC, where he recorded 6 tackles, 15 for loss, 5.5 sacks, two interceptions and two pass breakups.
Numbers don't lie, and it appears that Cravens is only getting better with time and his draft stock continues to rise.
"Su'a Cravens would be a great fit in Atlanta's defense," NFL Network analyst and former scout Bucky Brooks said of Cravens. "He's a guy who can comfortably play down in the box. He's good versus the run, [he] has good instincts and is active controlling the tackle box. He's also rangy enough to do things in pass coverage."
It comes as no surprise as to why Coach Dan Quinn would be interested in a prospect like Cravens. He has everything Quinn wants in his defenders: He plays with his instincts, he's got a knack for the ball and he's only just getting started.
Cravens has drawn comparisons to a player that Quinn coached, who happens to be one of, if not the best strong safety in the game, Kam Chancellor.
"If you think about Dan Quinn and his defense, Su'a Cravens would give them a guy who is similar to Kam Chancellor in the role that he can play in the back end," Brooks said. "So, to me it would make sense that the Falcons would have Su'a Cravens on their radar."
Quinn has centered his defense on the "ball hawking" mentality and that's one of Craven's strengths.
"He's an instinctive guy and he's around the ball a lot," Brooks said. "If you're looking to upgrade your defense with the loss of William Moore and trying to find someone that can play that role that Kam Chancellor played when Dan Quinn was in Seattle, Cravens is that kind of impact player. He doesn't necessarily have it athletically, but from a n instinct and awareness standpoint, he has those tools that should allow him to be a really, really good player as a pro."
While some could spot Craven's timed speed as a weakness and question if he's a good fit for the Falcons knowing Quinn's appreciation for fast players, it's important to note that speed is not just measured by the pure 40-yard dash time, it's more so about the speed that the athlete shows on the football field, at least for Quinn.
"I think a lot of the speed that Coach talks to isn't necessarily timed speed, it's how fast people play on the field," Brooks said. "Most of the guys he had in Seattle didn't necessarily time fast when it came to workouts, but they played fast because they had good instincts and understood just how to play the game with pads on.
"When you look at Cravens on tape, he plays fast. He's one of the first guys to the ball consistently. He understands how to get to where he needs to be to make plays and I think he plays fast enough to fit into Quinn's system."
Brooks projects Cravens to come off the board in the second round, and if the Falcons decide to go with a pass rusher at No. 17, things could get interesting as the need for a linebacker and safety will be at the top of their list of positions to fill, and Cravens could give the Falcons a two for one type of deal.
NFL Network's Bucky Brooks could see USC hybrid safety-linebacker Su'a Cravens fitting perfectly in Dan Quinn's defense, especially filling a role similar to Kam Chancellor's.