Rookies in Focus: Johnathan Cyprien

Steve Palazzolo highlights the second-half turnarounds of 2013 rookies.

| 3 years ago

Rookies in Focus: Johnathan Cyprien

rookie-improve-cyprienThere’s an obvious learning curve for any rookie entering the NFL, but some handle it better than others. With first impressions perhaps skewing our views more than ever due to social media’s inherent ability to overreact, we often jump to conclusions on prospects while wasting no time to assign the “bust” label. However, all prospects develop at different rates, and this particular group may have needed the first half of the season to adjust to the speed of the league.

[Click to see: comparison graphic | Johnathan Cyprien | Justin Pugh | Lane Johnson | Dee Milliner | Jamie Collins | Kawann Short | Kenny Vaccaro]


Round 2, No. 33: Johnathan Cyprien, Jacksonville Jaguars

Role: 15 Starts at safety.

Cyprien 1st Half 2nd Half Overall
Overall -19.4 +1.9 -17.5
Coverage -14.6 -0.2 -14.8
Vs. Run -7.8 +1.4 -6.4


First Half

It may have been the jump from Florida International to the NFL that proved difficult early on, but the game seemed a little fast for Cyprien during his first few games. He graded negatively in his first nine games before turning the corner in Week 11 against the Arizona Cardinals.

While Cyprien did show up with some big plays at times, they weren’t enough to trump the poor tackling, bad angles, and blown coverages that littered his first half of play. Of his 12 missed tackles, 10 came in the first half, so shoring up that aspect of his game went a long way toward his improved second half grades.

Cyprien whiffs on Darren McFadden:

Cyp Whiffs on McFadden

Cyprien misses the tackle on Luke Willson in the open field:

Cyp MT vs Willson

Both rookie safeties bounce of Donald Brown on his way to a 50-yard gain:

Cyprien MT vs Donald Brown

The Jaguars appear to rotate to quarters coverage while Cyprien still plays single-high:

Cyp TD vs Fleener

Cyprien gets turned around by Reggie Wayne in the end zone:

Cyprien Turned Around by Wayne


Second Half

The biggest difference between Cyprien’s first and second halves was his ability to limit the big plays from the offense. As mentioned, he showed much better as a tackler and found himself in good position in coverage more often than not. The blown coverages were kept to a minimum and he proved to be an asset rather than a liability against the run. The second half wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was an encouraging sign for Jaguars fans that Cyprien’s first half struggles may have just been part of the difficult transition to the NFL.

Cyprien makes a good break on the ball for the interception:

Cyp Good

Cyprien makes the tackle short of the sticks on third down:

Cyp Coverage

Cyprien makes an impact against the run:

Cyp Run Game

Cyp in the running game


Final Word

The Jaguars threw Cyprien right into the line of fire in his rookie season, and while there were plenty of growing pains, he looked like a different player by the end of the season. If he continues to progress, he has a chance to become the versatile safety the Jaguars envisioned when they drafted him at the top of the second round.


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| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

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