Next on the list in our player profile series is one of the young leaders on the Jacksonville Jaguars defense, strong safety Johnathan Cyprien.
Johnathan Cyprien didn’t attend a college that grabs the attention of NFL scouts and coaches, but his ability to make devastating hits and his sure tackling ability set him apart. Cyprien spent all four years of his college career at Florida International University, becoming FIU’s all time leading tackler by the time he left. He showcased his ability to rack up tackles in his freshman year at FIU, finishing second on the team with 78 tackles despite only making seven starts. He also had one interception, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles in his freshman season. The Sun Belt conference noticed what Cyprien accomplished in first year and it earned him honorable mention to the All Sun Belt team.
Cyprien took the next step in his sophomore season posting career highs in several categories. He led the team with 113 tackles including three for a loss. Cyprien also posted career highs in pass break ups with six and forced fumbles with three, he also added another interception to his sophomore stat line as well. He continued to play at a high level during his junior year, despite his total tackles dropping to 81. That season, he posted a career high in tackles for a loss with 5.5 as well as pass break ups with eight. One of his biggest games of his college career came in his junior season, he grabbed the attention of NFL scouts by racking up 11 tackles and two pass breakups against Louisville.
Johnathan Cyprien entered his final season at FIU with high expectations, his draft stock was starting to rise and he needed another strong season to prove his value to NFL scouts and coaches. Cyprien did exactly that, registering 93 tackles, with 3.5 going for a loss. His most impressive stat of his senior season was his four interceptions which showed he had the ability to be a playmaker as well as an enforcer.
May 28, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars safety Johnathan Cyprien (37) oiubts during OTAs at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
His impressive senior season earned him an invitation to the senior bowl which allowed him to showcase his ability in front of NFL scouts. His hard work payed off as the Jaguars selected him with the first pick in the second round making him the third safety taken in the 2013 draft.
Cyprien entered an interesting situation in Jacksonville, the team was just beginning a massive rebuild and he was set to be a starter immediately. His tackling ability was on full display in his rookie season as his tied for the sixth most tackles among all safeties in the NFL with 104. His season high in tackles came in week five against the Rams in which he was able to register 13. His best game was week 13 against the Cleveland Browns where he had 10 combined tackles as well an interception as he helped the Jaguars beat the Browns 32 to 28. However despite Cyprien’s ability to wrap up ball carriers, he struggled in coverage. Cyprien had trouble keeping up with opposing wide receivers and he found himself falling for play action fakes far too often.
It was a very similar story for Cyprien in his second season, he once again displayed that he is one of the best tacklers at his position but he still needs to improve in coverage. He finished with the second most tackles among all safeties in the NFL with 114 but he wasn’t able to register any interceptions in 2014. He had 4 double digit tackling games, including a combined total of 15 tackles in week 6 versus Tennessee. Cyprien’s stats show that he is a great pick for fantasy football (if your league has defensive players of course) but he still has a lot more work to do to fulfill his expectations in Jacksonville.
Cyprien must continue to show growth in his coverage ability and he needs to continue to take a leadership role on the Jaguars defense. There is no question that Cyprien has the potential to become one of the better safeties in the league and adding an experienced cornerback in Davon House could help take the pressure off Cyprien. The 2015 season will be the ultimate proof to whether Cyprien can take the next step or not but my guess is that we see a more complete player in 2015.
Be sure to be on the look out for our next player profile featuring Jaguars running back Denard Robinson, coming soon!
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