In a league that continues to evolve game-by-game, the NFL has been a pass-happy game that now requires three-down players at all three levels of the field. We often hear about three-down linebackers and defensive lineman that can contribute as both a threat against the run and the pass, but what’s become scarce throughout each team's personnel is a true centerfield safety.
It’s become difficult to find players that can erase the mistakes of others on the field while surveying on the roof of defense. During the 2017 draft cycle, Malik Hooker was believed to be that, but his inconsistencies have shown through. With Earl Thomas still searching for a team and so few safeties having the range in order to be that type of sideline-to-sideline defender that coaches can rely on, Syracuse safety Andre Cisco will be the ultimate test of ball production versus well-roundedness and consistency.
The team's Week 2 matchup against North Carolina was the 23rd career contest that he suited up for the Orange. In that span, he’s managed to collect 13 interceptions. A monstrous number that few players ever experience, Cisco has lived up to his ball-hawking label, but that isn’t the basis of his evaluation. While he still remains inconsistent in many other areas of his game, there’s plenty to say about his ability to get the ball back to the offense of his team. Even though he may be a spotty tackler and can be a bit too influenced with play-action fakes in the backfield, his draft stock will be one to monitor as ball production speaks for itself.
Safeties who are able to be reliable in coverage and can somehow find a way to create turnovers will always be valued high even though there may be other warts to deal with. A prime example of this was Cisco's performance against the Tar Heels, as he recorded three tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss, and had a standout interception off of quarterback Sam Howell. Despite once again being a ball magnet, he had other plays that showed some of the worries with his draft stock as a whole.
A part of a loaded conference with plenty of talent, Cisco is among the best in the country when it comes to turnovers, and potentially adds yet another option that could be selected in the top 50-75 range with the opportunity to climb even higher.