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Preseason Scouting Notes: Andre Cisco, FS, Syracuse

Junior | 6’0” 206 lbs | Valley Stream, NY

 

First-class ball-hawk who brings range and versatility to the secondary, but needs to clean up his tackling issues

 

Overview:

Andre Cisco has been a force for the Syracuse secondary since setting foot on the field as a true freshman. He’s the NCAA’s active leader in interceptions despite having only two collegiate seasons under his belt, racking up an absurd 12 picks in just 22 games played. Cisco primarily plays as a single-high safety in the Orange’s Cover-3 heavy scheme, but also has experience playing the deep half and lining up in man coverage from the slot.

Strengths:

– A true ball-hawk. Wins at the catch point with verticality, aggression, and tracking ability
– Light on his feet. Changes direction with immediacy
– Has the range to play single-high and the physicality to play in the box. A true 3-level impact guy from either safety spot
– Sure-handed as they come at the safety position. Shows high-level ball skills
– Shows fluid hips to transition out of phase
– Productive in man coverage from the slot. Gets physical and redirects opposing receivers
– Above average click and close
– More than willing to stick his nose in the fan as a run defender

Areas to improve:

– Simply too reckless as a tackler. Throws his body into ball-carriers with force, but doesn’t wrap up and consequently bounces off players with good contact balance
– Will take bad pursuit angles. Tendency to over-pursue and allow cutback lanes
– Overzealous attacking his keys and thus easily manipulated by QBs
– Will get overwhelmed by bigger, long-armed blockers
– Susceptible to getting flat-footed when receivers use deceptive moves against him

Injury concerns:

– “Lower body injury” suffered against Clemson in 2019. Missed three games

Projection:

With the necessary range to play free safety and the physical tools to line up in the box, Cisco profiles as a versatile, ball-hawking, back-end starter. With teams utilizing more Nickel and Dime packages, Cisco’s ability to man up from the slot gives him the extra versatility that many teams are looking for. While he has great physical tools and his ball skills are elite, Cisco’s poor tackling will likely hold him back from being taken in the first round. He currently projects as an early Day 2 selection unless he grows in that area.

What to watch in 2020:

The primary thing Cisco must improve on is his tackling form. He rarely wraps up and almost never drives his legs through contact. Instead, he often finds himself as a hasty dive tackler or pushover catch tackler. Meanwhile, as Cisco transitions from young phenom to upperclassman, will he assume full command of the Syracuse defense? Free safeties often need to be the vocal leader in the secondary, and Cisco needs to prove to NFL teams that he’s a competent commander.