The Ravens have five safeties currently on the roster. Their starting duo of Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott are locked in for 2021, and the team re-signed Anthony Levine Sr. and reacquired Geno Stone in free agency. They also re-signed Jordan Richards earlier this year.
All in all, this is a formidable group. However, Levine and Richards are primarily special teamers and Stone has little-to-no playing experience in the NFL.
To supplement a position of strength and add more versatility and depth in the secondary, the Ravens could look to add another safety in the draft. What they’re lacking is a true free safety with natural single-high coverage acumen, so that would likely be the mold they would target.
Someone who fits this description and could be available in the middle rounds of the draft is Syracuse’s Andre Cisco.
Cisco, 21, is entering the professional ranks after three seasons at Syracuse. He played a total of 24 collegiate games, 13 of which came in his freshman year. In 2019, Cisco appeared in nine games and last season, his junior campaign was cut short after only two games due to an ACL injury.
This season-ending injury likely hurt his draft stock a bit. Whereas he may have been a potential first-round pick or heard his name called early in the second, Cisco is now more likely to be picked in the mid-to-late second round or third round — which could be good news for a team whose lap he falls into.
There’s a lot to like about Cisco’s NFL potential. For starters, he stands out as one of the top-tier playmakers at the safety position in this draft class. Cisco possesses a strong combination of athleticism, range, and ball skills.
In 2018, Cisco was named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year and earned First-Team All-ACC honors. His tremendous freshman season was highlighted by seven interceptions, 11 pass deflections and a forced fumble. The following year, he was named to the All-ACC Second-Team with five interceptions, five pass deflections and another forced fumble. In the two games he played in 2020 pre-injury, Cisco had already flashed again with 11 tackles and an interception.
During these two seasons, Cisco racked up a combined 125 total tackles — an impressive mark for a player thought of as more of a coverage specialist as opposed to a hard-hitter or run stuffer. His tackling and run defense does need improvement, though. If asked to play in the box at the NFL level, Cisco would likely struggle.
With that being said, though, he pack quite a punch on defenders at times:
Cisco thrives in space, where his ability to track the ball in the air and break on defenders shines. This can also be attributed in part due to his exceptional football IQ. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time and demonstrates a high-level understanding of coverages and assignments.
Should he lands in the right system where he’s asked to play to these strengths, Cisco could wind up being a steal on day two of the draft. Cisco draws some similarities to former LSU FS Grant Delpit, who was selected by the Browns last year in the middle of the second round in 2020.
If Cisco is available when the Ravens are picking at No. 58 this year, or if they do some maneuvering to acquire extra picks, he could be a good option. Mixing him into the defensive backfield with Clark, Elliott, and company would add another layer and dimension to the secondary.