Safety might be the most undervalued position in the NFL today. Every team in the league is desperate for a long-term answer at the position of center field on the defense, but there just aren’t enough top-tier players to go around. This year’s draft class only underscores that point as if there is any area lacking depth in the 2013 selection, safety is one of those spots. The St. Louis Rams clearly need to add at least one safety this offseason with both starters from a year ago now gone. Here is a player that could go a long way toward alleviating that concern for the franchise.
Jonathan Cyprien, Safety
There is no shortage of wallop when it comes to hits delivered by Cyprien. He plays effectively in the box against the run, but he has just as big of an impact when it comes to playing in coverage. He delivers the blow to receivers and separates man from ball on a regular basis. His passion on the field as a vocal leader is a definite plus. Natural hip flexibility allows Cyprien to adjust to receivers crossing his face in coverage while elite closing speed provides him with the ability to get there in time to break up passes. Tackling is perhaps the best attribute that he brings to the table with a real intensity about his hitting as he wraps up and drives through to the turf.
While his aggression is an asset in some ways, it can also get him into trouble. Play action fakes often times suck him up into the box leaving the top of the coverage open for a deep ball over the top. He lacks elite change of direction ability which hinders him in man coverage. Adjusting to the speed of the next level could be a difficult process after playing at a lower level of competition. While he has the athleticism to make many plays, sometimes his late awareness that the ball is coming his direction prevents him from doing so.
WHY DOES HE FIT?
There is an obvious need at the safety spot for a team with no returning starters at the position in 2013. The Rams have a young secondary that has already been developing into quite the group of playmakers. Cyprien may not be ready to step in as an immediate starter, but a bargain veteran could be added to show him the ropes and make the transition much smoother. There is plenty of natural ability present that just needs to be harnessed and developed.
At picks 16 and 22 in round one, Cyprien may not be a fit for the Rams. If they decide to trade down from one of those two spots however, he becomes a definite possibility.