“First I’m going to have to humble myself like I did in college,” Cravens said, asked what he felt would be the biggest challenge ahead. “You’re starting over. You’re at the bottom of the totem pole. You have a lot to prove. You have to gain everybody’s respect. I’m going to be as helpful as I can, on and off the field.
“I’m very confident in my ability; I’ll never question myself on the field. But my biggest goal is to be the best teammate I can be.”
Just 20, Cravens is the youngest player on the Redskins’ roster. But he traveled alone on a red-eye flight from California to Washington for Saturday’s introduction to the Redskins. He also traveled alone to Indianapolis for February’s NFL combine.
“My dad said to me, ‘You go by yourself; you focus. You’re a man now. I did all I need to do. It’s time for you to handle your own responsibility,’ ” Cravens recounted, explaining his father’s influence. “That’s just another lesson.”
Although Cravens didn’t attend Thursday’s first-round draft proceedings in Chicago, he acknowledged that he expected to be chosen that night. When he was passed over, he picked himself up and went to work out at the gym.
“I looked at it as, if I wasn’t good enough to go on the first day, I’m gonna get in the gym tonight and prove that I’m good enough to myself,” explained Cravens, who recorded 206 tackles, 16 pass breakups, 10 sacks and nine interceptions in three seasons as a Trojan. “I’m all about work. If I feel I’m not working hard enough, I’m gonna get back to it.”
At 6-1, 226, Cravens is considered small for a linebacker but big for a strong safety. The Redskins like his versatility and hybrid quality and plan on using him primarily as a dime linebacker.
Cravens was flanked in the FedEx Field interview room Saturday by first-round pick Josh Doctson, the standout wide receiver from Texas Christian, and Virginia Tech defensive back Kendall Fuller, whom the Redskins added with their third-round pick. All spoke in similar terms about the learning curve ahead.
Doctson, who worked his way from TCU walk-on to first-round draft pick, acknowledged that the Redskins drafted him higher than he expected to be taken, at 22nd overall, and vowed to make the most of the opportunity.
“I’m a self-motivator,” Doctson said. “I worked hard to get here and appreciate that the coach, owner and GM saw a lot in me.”
Doctson steps into a tricky role on the Redskins: He’s a youngster the team obviously expects to start at some point at a position that already has two established starters in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Doctson said he had spoken on Friday to Jackson, who welcomed him to the team.
“I’m just gonna keep my head down and keep working,” Doctson said.
Fuller, 21, whose three elder brothers also played football at Virginia Tech and went on to NFL careers, voiced a debt to his parents and his siblings for the opportunity he now has with the Redskins.
“They kind of knew I was always going to be watching them, so they lived by example, through their actions, always doing the right thing, showing me how to be a good player, a good man,” Fuller said of his brothers. “Watching them, learning from their past, their experience definitely shaped me.”
Several hundred Redskins fans attended the team’s draft party at FedEx Field on a gloomy afternoon for the chance to get a first-hand peek at the top three draft picks; collect autographs from veterans such as linebacker Preston Smith, cornerback Bashaud Breeland and nose tackle Chris Baker; and watch the team’s remaining selections on an oversize screen.
This post has been updated.
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