A Closer Look: Cypping the Kool-Aid
Truth be told…Johnathan Cyprien disappointed in his time with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was drafted in the 2nd round based on his physical attributes and “potential” to make an impact. Despite playing against lesser competition and being used in a non-conventional safety role as a collegiate at Florida International, he was thrown into the fire as a rookie – He struggled until putting together a successful 2016 season. Is he a one hit wonder or a player who has finally reached his potential?
The Titans are betting on the latter. That said, if they plan to use him in a similar fashion, an in-the-box enforcer, they would play to his strengths and improve the Titans run and pass defense in the process. If they expand his role, Tennessee may once again struggle against the pass.
Cyprien reminds me of a young Bernard Pollard – Coverage is not a strong suit, but he can knife through defenders with reckless abandon and lay down the hammer. He’ll occasionally take a bad angle or get overly aggressive, but his presence provides a noticeable impact.
He’s also proven quite durable over his NFL career – Missing only 4 games. Although playing as a “raw” rookie caused growing pains, it also provided invaluable experience in the form of 60 starts in 60 games.
60 G – 60 GS – 2 INT – 15 PD – 4 FF – 2 FR- 2 SK – 339 T & 110 A
He’ll never be known as a ball hawking free safety, but his stellar work against the run is evident by his 100 tackles per season, #7 safety ranking (2016) per Pro Football Focus and by being listed as a LB/SS by Pro Football Reference. In fact, had Cyprien played in Tennessee since entering the league, he would have been the Titans leading tackler…all four seasons.
Titans Tackling Leaders
2013 – Bernard Pollard (99) – Cyp 102
2014 – Michael Griffin (112) – Cyp 114
2015 – Avery Williamson (102) – Cyp 107
2016 – Avery Williamson (104) – Cyp 126
Regardless of how the Titans choose to use Cyprien moving forward, he should at least provide a minimum of 100 tackles per season – Great news for a secondary that missed far too many tackles in 2016. His presence at SS will set the defensive tone and cause receivers crossing the middle to develop Alligator arms. He’ll also allow Kevin Byard to play to his strength as a center fielding free safety. Despite his overall game that still requires some development, if used properly, he will improve the Titans secondary.