2021 NFL Draft: The missing piece to the Andre Cisco puzzle

Andre Cisco is receiving quite a bit a hype as a safety prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft, but one key piece to his game is missing.

The safety from Syracuse — Andre Cisco — is an uber-talented safety prospect, who has captured the eyes of many among draft fans early in the summer scouting process of the 2021 NFL Draft. Cisco, deserves every bit of that hype; he’s got great size (6’0″, 206-pounds), and moves extremely well — fluid hips and displayed solid range on his tape.

When you’re reviewing the checklist on Cisco he checks every box, every box, but one. Surely this shouldn’t have a huge effect on his draft stock, it is only one part of his game that’s missing. However, it is one of the most important skills you look for in a safety; tackling.

For a safety, tackling is one of the most important aspects of their game — they don’t have to be a boomer and lay the hammer every time, but they need to be able to bring down the ball-carrier successfully at a high-rate. The difference between a safety making and missing the tackle is huge, if the safety misses the tackle it likely means a touchdown for the offense; the safety is that last line of defense and he HAS to be sure-tackler.

The last two drafts haven’t been too kind to the safety position — in both drafts, no safety was drafted in the top-20 and only 2 were selected in the first round; both came in 2019, Darnell Savage and Jonathan Abram (it should be noted that both were solid tacklers coming out of college). If Cisco wants to crack the first-round he’ll need to make a huge turnaround in the 2020 season.

In order for Cisco to make the jump, he’s going to do a complete technical overhaul. The willingness is there, he forces hard against the run and is willing to stick his nose in gaps, meeting the running back in the hole, but he just lacks the ability to finish.

When tackling head-on he meets the ball-carrier as opposed to going through him. Tackles on the outside when he’s forced to take an angle, his angles are poor and he doesn’t do a great job of breaking down, often leaving his feet too early.

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These issues are all fixable. It’s just going to take reps and with the COVID-19 he may not be getting as many as he needs. Andre Cisco currently has a ton of fans and after the 2020 season (if there is one) he will likely generate even more. If Cisco doesn’t get over his tackling woes, he may be the next Grant Delpit/Xavier McKinney, and fall to a lucky team in the second round.

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