Andre Cisco NFL Draft Profile
In every NFL Draft, there is a player that will slide because of an unfortunate injury. In 2013, it was South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore. It could be argued that Tua Tagovailoa would have gone higher in last year’s draft if it weren’t for concerns about his devastating hip injury.
This year, Syracuse safety Andre Cisco has the potential to be the most talented player to fall in the 2021 NFL Draft due to an unfortunate injury. Before tearing his ACL in a pre-game collision earlier this season, the Syracuse safety was amongst the best and arguably the most ball-hawking safety in college football. Cisco’s status for his rookie season in the NFL is still unclear but if he is able to overcome injuries, it’s very clear that he could be one of the best steals of the draft.
Top Three Player Traits
Cisco’s best asset as a safety is without a doubt his ability to play the ball in the air. In his three-year career, he had 13 interceptions and 29 passes defended including a ridiculous 2018 campaign when he had 7 picks and 18 PBUs. The reason he is so good at this is because of his ability to diagnose plays and act on them quickly. This is arguably his best ability as a safety. He especially excels in zone coverage and plays much bigger than his size. He has soft hands as well so he very rarely will drop a potential interception.
Due to his injury, we won’t know what Cisco’s 40-yard dash time is before the draft but after watching his tape, it’s not entirely necessary. One of his abilities that allows him to excel in zone coverage is his ability to find good angles and reach receivers at the right angle. Cisco does extremely well in deep coverage because of his natural speed and agility to cover the entire deep field. While Cisco’s play overall isn’t reminiscent of Bob Sanders, his speed turning him into essentially a heat-seeking missile certainly is.
While Cisco can be over-aggressive at times (which will be discussed later), a positive side of that is that he does not shy away from contact. If Cisco identifies a run play early on, he’s immediately hitting the line of scrimmage and trying to punch the ball out of the runner’s arms. As the NFL continues to move toward an RPO approach with dual-threat quarterbacks, this type of safety who can quickly identify plays and put themselves in position with the linebackers to stuff it are also increasingly more valuable.
Top Three Traits To Improve Upon
This can quickly turn into a semantics argument given I just listed physicality as a strength of his and these two tend to go hand in hand. So let’s clarify: Cisco’s physicality means he seeks out contact which is an asset in defending against the run. However, his aggressiveness, not just for contact but for the ball as well, can also hurt him. There are times that Cisco will go for the ball or the big hit which will result in a missed tackle or big play. This type of aggressive mindset makes him pretty susceptible to play fakes and pump fakes as well. He needs to learn when to play it safe rather than go for the highlight reel.
This is where it’s tough to gauge where Cisco fits in an NFL defensive system. A lot of his skills make him perfect for a versatile free safety role at the next level but he absolutely has to improve on his man coverage skills. While he’s capable of defending players one-on-one, he commonly gets lost on juke moves and struggles with hip fluidity. If a team like the Rams want to replace the loss of John Johnson at free safety with the likes of Cisco, they will have to ensure they can help coach him up when it comes to man coverage. He would also be a really good fit for the Chargers alongside Derwin James.
I always hate knocking players for injury history as it is usually something totally out of their control. However, as noted before, Cisco’s ACL injury hopefully isn’t serious but the truth of the matter is, no one knows yet. It’s a promising sign that at his pro day, which was about six months after his surgery, Cisco was able to take part in the bench press drill and told reporters that he would be ready to go in time for training camp. It’s also worth noting he missed three games during his sophomore year with an injury as well. So while he’s not chronically hurt, durability is an inevitable concern for the Syracuse safety.
Andre Cisco is arguably the best safety in this year’s draft class but due to his ACL, he’s usually found in the 3-5 range of most expert’s safety rankings. NFL teams will have to heavily invest in medically clearing him before selecting him in the 2021 NFL Draft but if he passes that, he will be a steal for whoever gets him in Rounds 2-4. He is the definition of big risk, big reward but because his ball skills are so good, it’s more often the latter.