Jaguars open 2nd round by drafting SS Cyprien

By MARK LONG - AP Sports Writer
    2013-04-26 19:11

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - The Jacksonville Jaguars spent nearly 20 hours fielding offers for the first pick in the second round of the NFL draft.

None of them was enough to convince general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley from adding another starter.

A day after landing Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel with the No. 2 pick, the rebuilding Jaguars drafted strong safety Johnathan Cyprien with the 33rd overall selection.

``This is a guy that's extremely passionate about football, loves the game, a fit for us,'' Caldwell said. ``He's been tough, he's been reliable, he's been consistent. He's a little bit of a late bloomer, went to Florida International, but has gotten better over his career and is going to continue to get better here at the National Football League.''

Caldwell said three teams, including the New York Jets, inquired about moving into Jacksonville's spot Friday.

``We told teams we feel really good there, but if we're going to do something, it'd have to be something that would really knock our socks off,'' Caldwell said.

Instead, the Jaguars opted to stay put and chose a player expected to start right away on a defense that ranked 30th in the league last season.

The 6-foot, 217-pound Cyprien will start opposite Dwight Lowery, replacing last year's starter, Dawan Landry.

After releasing Landry last month, the Jaguars were left without a strong safety on the roster. Bradley even mentioned that fact at least three times earlier this week.

So it was no surprise that the Jaguars used their second-rounder to fill a gaping hole.

``Coming into any program, I know there's going to be competition, and I'm ready to go in there and compete,'' Cyprien said. ``I don't think anything's going to be given to me. If I come into a starting position, I'll just be really happy about that and I'll embrace that totally.''

Cyprien started 45 games in four years at FIU, finishing his college career with 365 tackles, six forced fumbles and seven interceptions.

He considers himself a late-bloomer, one reason he only had two scholarship offers coming out of high school. He chose FIU over Western Michigan, opting to stay closer to his North Miami Beach home.

He blossomed with the Golden Panthers, where he developed into the Sun Belt Conference's defensive player of the year as a senior. He had 93 tackles and four interceptions in 2012.

``Yeah tough, physical, aggressive, really good athlete,'' Caldwell said. ``We just felt like this is a guy that's going to bring a different element to our defense in terms of his toughness and his relentlessness.''

Cyprien really stood out at the Senior Bowl, his first chance to perform in front of all 32 NFL teams. It was clear he was a hard-hitter and a vocal leader.

``He's got a passion for the game,'' Bradley said. ``He is very animated. He just enjoys it. He loves to play the game. I think he's going to add to what we have here and the attitude that we're looking for.''

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