Some may question the need for the numerous predraft All-Star games, workouts and "Underwear Olympics". Do we really care about arm length, hand size or if a player is too short for the normal standards? Forty-yard dash times are always questioned. These predraft activities are important to me, and I assume for Scouts and Coaches alike. It works as a check and balance system for players that I've already studied. I have an opinion that I want to solidify. Maybe I'll see something new in a prospect that forces me to go back to the game tape. In my case, I'm seeing a bunch of these players for the first time.
That's where Florida International University strong safety Jonathan Cyprien comes into play. I'm going through my list of safeties to evaluate this week and briefly noticed his name when entering the prospects into a spreadsheet. Yesterday at Senior Bowl weigh-ins, Cyprien grabbed scouts and media's attention with a "great physique" and weighing in just over six-feet and a "chiseled" 209 lbs. That's always nice to hear, but when many evaluators attending practice started mentioning his name as one of the standouts, it was hard to ignore. Dane Brugler or CBSsports.com tweeted: "Great that two of the most impressive prospects at weigh-ins were equally as impressive at practice: DE Datone Jones, SAF Jonathan Cyprien"
At this point, I decided to skip the few safeties on my list and go straight to Cyprien. There were three games at my disposal thanks to DraftBreakdown.com, Louisville, Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic. Not great competition, but equal to what Cyprien was surrounded by at FIU. After those three games, I was blown away.
Jonathan Cyprien not only stood out as the best athlete on the FIU defense, he's also the most instinctive, intimidating and high-energy player on either side of the field in those games. He's a strong safety that's very comfortable playing in the box and the best safety against the run that I've seen thus far. He can also bump and run in coverage against tight ends and running backs.
From a coverage perspective, Cyprien's anticipation shined. He has a great feel for running lanes and quickly measures up ball-carriers to make crushing hits. When he doesn't leave his feet, Cyprien is one of the better form tacklers in this draft class. His aggressive angles can hurt him at times and he can get locked-out by linemen, but after watching a bunch of safeties in this class, he's no worse than the rest. Where I was most impressed was his range as a center fielder. He can get sideline-to-sideline in a hurry and appears to read the quarterback's eyes very well. He can get to those deep routes on the boundary for a big hit or make a play on the ball.
I feel like I watched something special in Jonathan Cyprien. He's currently my No. 2 rated prospect at safety and only a few points behind Texas' Kenny Vaccaro. Cyprien compares favorably to Harrison Smith (Vikings) from last year's draft. I think he could go anywhere from late first to a solid 2nd round pick (30-55).