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Florida Atlantic receiver Lester Jean scores a touchdown past Florida International's Jonathan Cyprien at Lockhart Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Saturday, October 30, 2010. Florida Atlantic University defeats Florida International, 21-9 in overtime. (Photo by Robert Mayer/Sun Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
Florida International safety Jonathan Cyprien was a lightly-recruited but productive player in college. He started right off the bat, totaling 78 tackles in his freshman year. Cyprien added 93 tackles and four interceptions as a senior in 2012.
Cyprien is an aggressive safety who isn’t afraid to stick his nose into the running game. When he plays from a deep position, he’s willing to fly up to hit ball-carriers. He played from both a deep position and in the box at Florida International, practically changing positions based on the opponent.
Cyprien can play well from both spots—deep and in the box—assuming he isn’t asked to cover too much ground in the back end. He’s not a ball-hawking free safety who can play the deep middle because there are some questions about his straight-line speed. The Combine is going to be really important for him; if he’s a 4.50 guy, it might change some things.
Despite his lack of elite speed, Cyprien can still cover. He has really good ball skills because he’s a good overall athlete, and he succeeds in zone coverages. He can play the deep half very well; he made a number of plays from the position against Louisville. Cyprien can also play underneath zones.
At 6 feet, 209 pounds, Cyprien’s build would suggest he could potentially play either free or strong safety, but his skill set is suited for the latter position. Again, he’s not going to succeed if he’s asked to play “centerfield” too often, but he’s a quality safety in most other situations. He’s a plus tackler and a fluid enough athlete to overcome his small-school background.
It’s worth noting that Cyprien is said to be a hard worker. He was continually going full speed in Mobile at the Senior Bowl practices, so he has the ability to make those around him better.
NFL Comparison: Morgan Burnett
Packers safety Morgan Burnett is a good line of comparison for Cyprien; built similarly, both players aren’t necessarily “centerfielders” in the back end, but they can play both the run and pass in the deep half and in the box. Like Burnett, I think Cyprien can be a solid pro who doesn’t necessarily possess an incredible high ceiling.
Cyprien figures to be a second-round pick, although he could slip into the third if he shows poorly in Indianapolis. He’s going to get selected behind Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro—who I profiled here—although I think the two are similar players.
Fit In Dallas
Cyprien could be a good fit in Dallas, playing the deep half in their Cover 2 looks and underneath when needed. Cyprien would likely be the Cowboys’ second-round selection, and that’s around the draft slot that I think his talent warrants.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.