The Jacksonville Jaguars had three players at the top of their draft board on Friday, as they held the No. 33 overall pick, the first selection in the second round. The team reportedly had Stanford tight end Zach Ertz, Mississippi State corner Darius Slay, and FIU safety Jonathan Cyprien at the top of their board and also had some offers to move down.
The Jaguars had some models run showing they should be able to get one of those players if they slid into the 40's after a trade, but general manager Dave Caldwell wanted to make sure to get a surefire starter with the pick so he decided to pull the trigger on Cyprien.
Both Ertz and Slay were off the board by pick 36, so it seems Caldwell made the right move.
Especially after the rave reviews Cyprien drew from those in attendance at the Jaguars mini-camp over the weekend.
"A man among boys," is how Mark Long of the Associated Press described Cyprien after just one practice, where the Jaguars had their second round pick playing both in the box and in centerfield.
Many Jaguars fans have already started comparing Cyprien to former Jaguars safety Donovin Darius, who was know as an enforcer in the secondary, but unlike Cyprien Darius was a liability in coverage. Cyprien's ability to play in coverage, and make plays like the one below, are what makes him likely to be an impact player his rookie season on the Jaguars defense.
"Yeah, that’s a great play, early in practice when he was playing man coverage," Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said about Cyprien's big play during practice. "The first day we had him playing back teaching him more middle third principles and you saw the last two days we got him down more, to get him more comfortable down there."
The initial plan for the Jaguars is to use Cyprien as the "box" safety, the kind of bandit style role that Bradley liked to use with Kam Chancellor on the Seattle Seahawks. Typically the box safety will play down, closer to the line of scrimmage and cover the short zones or man up on a tight end. With Cyprien's ability to lay the wood and cover he can also drop back in the Jaguars defense and play deeper zones, letting the defense disguise what their coverages will be.
After the first mini-camp, Cyprien has the feel of a "big play" type of safety, so hopefully that will carry over to the regular season when he's in the starting lineup.