Johnathan Cyprien began Thursday evening with a first for FIU’s 11-season-old football program already to his credit: first FIU player in the NFL Draft to watch Round 1 with realistic hope of hearing his name.
And that’s where the safety remained after the first round.
At least the delay didn’t ruin Cyprien’s draft watch party — that’s not until Friday night, when the second and third round selections get made.
Impressive offseason workouts and some detailed film review pushed Cyprien up in the eyes of draft analysts until there was little doubt the North Miami Beach High graduate would become the first FIU player taken in the first two rounds. Last year, Indianapolis took wide receiver T.Y. Hilton in the third round, at 92nd overall.
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Sports Illustrated’s Peter King had Dallas taking Cyprien at No. 18 overall in his mock draft. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s mock draft in ESPN the Magazine — before Kiper began making last-minute adjustments — put Cyprien in Baltimore with last year’s Super Bowl champions with the last pick of the first round. Other teams seen as possibly embracing Cyprien: St. Louis, Green Bay, Cincinnati, Miami, San Francisco and Washington.
A contingent from Cincinnati, including defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, worked out Cyprien at FIU Stadium recently.
Though FIU’s senior-laden defense failed the team through most of a disappointing 2012 season, Cyprien and defensive end Tourek Williams ranked as FIU’s best NFL Draft prospects this season. Williams, 6-3 and 260 pounds, could go during Saturday’s last four rounds of the draft.