If the Redskins are not able to recoup any of the $18 million cap penalty the NFL has imposed on them, the team’s best/only option for making an upgrade at free safety could come during next month’s draft.
And the name most frequently linked to the Redskins is Johnathan Cyprien, a 6 foot, 217-pound Florida International product who can play both free and strong safety.
“My biggest strength is leadership, communication and tackling, being physical,” Cyprien said at last week’s scouting combine in Indianapolis. “Things I need to work on, I want to get better on all those things all the time.”
Late last month, NFL Network draft guru Mike Mayock said he rated Cyprien as the No. 3 safety available, adding that he could start for the Redskins immediately. Mayock expects Cyprien to be drafted in the middle to the end of the second round; the Redskins’ first pick is 51.
Cyprien was diagnosed with a hamstring strain prior to working out at the combine and was limited as a result. But that did not hurt his stock; Mayock still has him listed third among safeties in his post-combine rankings.
Cyprien first garnered national attention at January’s Senior Bowl, where he had an impressive week in practice and posted five tackles, including one for a loss, in the game.
His performance in Mobile performance confirmed what many scouts had suspected: Despite playing against small school competition at FIU, Cyprien possesses the skill set to excel against the big boys.
As a senior, he led the Golden Panthers in interceptions (four) and tackles (93). In fact, he’s FIU’s all-time leader in tackles with 353.
“I think I’m the No. 1 [safety],” he said. “I can bring a lot. I can contribute to a team winning games, making plays when called and leadership.”
Fellow small school prospect B.W. Webb of William & Mary praised Cyprien’s tireless work ethic. The two are training together in Miami with other draft eligible players.
“His work ethic is impeccable,” Webb said of Cyprien. “Some times our trainer has to tell him to chill out. He’s one of the guys always on the field, always wanting to work.”