One thing I love about a Josh Norris mock draft is that he's always willing to go the path less traveled. Rather than falling into step with conventional opinion, he's always willing to put himself out on a limb, and offer up who he thinks is the best candidate -- not just who fits a team's top need. Citing the Panthers' desire to upgrade their safety position last year, he has the team improving their secondary in his latest mock draft, but not with who you might think.
14. Carolina Panthers -- S Johnathan Cyprien, FIU
By the time mid-March rolls around, I expect Cyprien to be a unanimous first-round projection. Sure, some will complain he is listed before Kenny Vaccaro and Matt Elam, but the FIU product has a real chance to be the best of the bunch. Reports surfaced after last year's draft that the Panthers thought highly of Mark Barron, and although a new GM is in place, safety is one of the positions in need of an upgrade.
This is a very bold pick by Norris, but who are we to argue? At this point he's proven himself to be right more often than wrong, and it's entirely possible Cyprien passes Vaccaro as the top safety. As much as I'm loathed to give BW an ego, hat tip to him for mentioning Cyprien as a possibility in this week's CSR Radio. I ignore him as much as possible, but maybe it's time to listen to him -- WHAT HAVE I BECOME?!
Here's what I like about Cyprien: He's got good size, and plays the ball better in the air than any of the other top safeties. Cyprien is really aggressive, and not afraid of contact. Selecting him would allow Godfrey to move to free safety, where I think he can be more successful as a last line of defense.
Here's what I don't like: He plays like a more in control Charles Godfrey. I'm not a huge fan of high tacklers over guys who don't wrap up, but that doesn't mean he's unable to do so. I'm also not sure he can be a week-one starter at strong safety, as the competition jump will take him some time.