Our pre-draft series continues with a look at an impressive safety who stood out at the 2013 Senior Bowl.
Only a pair of schools offered Jonathan Cyprien football scholarships. One of the two, Florida International, heavily recruited the hard-hitting safety prospect.
“They showed a lot of interest in me,” Cyprien recalled back in February at the NFL Scouting Combine.
The Miami Beach native liked that it was close to home, but also trusted his gut instinct to play at FIU.
“I went with that, that was FIU,” the 6-foot, 217-pound safety recalled.
Cyprien enjoyed his time playing in the Sun Belt Conference and proved to be one of the most dominant players in college. He left campus as FIU’s all-time leader in tackles.
At the 2013 Senior Bowl, Cyprien’s hard-hitting and tight coverage was quite noticeable.
Small-school aside, Cyprien could be one of the top safeties selected in the 2013 NFL Draft.
The FIU prospect’s name has been paired with the San Francisco 49ers in recent weeks, too. With San Francisco losing starting free safety Dashon Goldson in free agency to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cyprien has been discussed as a 49ers target by many draft experts.
Is Cyprien listening to where draft pundits have him pegged? Not so much.
“I’m just trying to keep my head down, keep my head straight,” said the safety who had 25 NFL teams represented at his March 16 pro day. “I know it’s a long process until April. And really, the projections right now, are really just projections.”
Still, Cyprien stands as one of the best prospects to ever come out of FIU. He joined second-year Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton as the only Panther prospects to ever be invited to the Senior Bowl.
Furthermore, there’s a lot to like about Cyprien’s game. He has experience playing at both free and strong safety and was an All-Sun Belt first-team performer who totaled a team-high 93 tackles and four interceptions in 2012.
Cyprien also started every one of FIU’s games over the past three seasons. College experience helped Cyprien perform strongly at the Senior Bowl, a showcase game for the nation’s top draft prospects.
“Getting that NFL vibe in the meetings and practices, it was great,” Cyprien detailed.
“They’re great players in the league,” Cyprien said of his NFL role models. “They run downhill, great plays, and both of them contribute to helping their team win.”
Because of his ability to support the run and defend the opponent’s passing game like a centerfielder, Cyprien feels confident about his chances of stepping into the NFL as a day-one starter.
“My biggest strengths are leadership, communication, tackling, being physical,” the FIU standout said. “Things I need to work on, I need to work on those things, and I want to get better on all those things all the time.”
Intelligence is also on his side. Cyprien earned his hospitality management degree in three-and-a-half years.
But is he ready to take a coveted starting role on defense by Week 1?
“I believe I am,” he said.
Until Cyrpien’s fate is determined at the NFL Draft, beginning on April 25, the FIU safety is focused on improving each day before his NFL future is known.
So even if he’s considered right now as a second, or first-round selection, Cyprien will simply let the chips fall and play hard for whoever drafts him.
“Like I said, they’re just projections right now and if I just keep humbling myself and keep putting God first in all that I’m doing, then hopefully at the end, I’ll be ready to pinch myself,” he said.
This year’s draft class at safety offers plenty of first-round worthy candidates, yet Cyprien feels like he’s the best of the bunch.
“I think I’m the No. 1 because I can bring a lot and contribute to a team winning games, and making plays when called, leadership,” Cyprien said. “I can come in and say it all I want, but at the end of the day, when I have my opportunity, I want to shine in all that I do.”