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NFL Draft 2021: Horn is a potential +150 play in First CB market

Jaycee Horn is very much a live bet in this market
Jaycee Horn is very much a live bet in this market
By Zachary Rainey

The position of cornerback was one that was tough to tell for a while who would be the first player drafted.

At the current moment, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II is the favorite to be the first cornerback drafted at -278, with the next closest being South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn at +150.

The appeal of Surtain II is that he shadowed every team’s No. 1 option on their way to a national championship. It wasn’t the typical dominant defensive unit that Alabama head coach Nick Saban has had in previous seasons, but having a guy like Surtain II certainly helped. 

In his latest mock draft, Mel Kiper Jr. has Surtain II being selected by the Dallas Cowboys at 10th overall.

Just a month ago, it was a race between Surtain II and Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley.

Kiper shares a stat about Farley courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information: In 2019 (remember, he opted out of the 2020 season) Farley allowed a completion percentage of 24.4% when he was the targeted defender in coverage, which ranked No. 1 in the FBS.

Farley is a weird one. He’s been better in press coverage than when he’s playing off. It’s usually the opposite for young corners, and at 6-foot-2, 207 pounds, he’s going to be a force punishing smaller receivers at the line while being able to take away bigger targets.

But Farley fell out of favor with scouts after having surgery on his back and is now +2000 to be the first corner taken.

One interesting thing is that both players had fathers who played in the NFL. Patrick Surtain Sr. was a three-time pro bowler from 2002-20004 and was a First-team All-Pro in 2002 and Second-team in 2003. Horn’s father, Joe Horn, was a talented receiver and was a four-time pro-bowler with the New Orleans Saints and is the team’s Hall of Fame. 

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According to a NFL.com article, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah recently compared Farley to Baltimore Ravens corner Jimmy Smith, but that Farley could be more consistent and reliable when healthy.

Interestingly enough, NFLcom’s analyst Lance Zierlein compared Horn, not Farley to Smith.

Horn was a three-year starter at South Carolina and thrived in press man coverage. He’s proven to be versatile and can also shadow a team’s best wide receiver.

According to Zierlein’s profile of Horn, Horn will need to clean up his game, as he is used to being able to make contact after five yards. Considering the state of the Dallas Cowboys secondary, which is where the first corner is likely to go, they can’t really go wrong with either pick, but I think the pick will be the Alabama product at the end of the day.

The phrase “when healthy” has been virtually an attachment to some players name in sports over the years, guys who have top talent, but was never able to stay healthy when it counted. Back injuries for defensive backs are certainly worth monitoring, so hopefully there’s no setbacks for Farley after back surgery and he’s good for camp.

Surtain II is also a bigger corner; listed at 6-foot-2, 203 pounds. One thing I liked about Surtain II was that he was all over the field and in on tackles, not taking run plays off. In 2019, he had 42 tackles, 32 solo, eight pass breakups, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.

Jeremiah compared him to Miami Dolphins corner Byron Jones. Ironically, Kiper has Surtain II mocked to go to Jones’ former team. Dallas’ defense was in shambles last season after losing Jones, so a defensive back should be atop Jerry Jones’ list.

If you’re more of a Horn guy, consider the number at +150, I just think that Jones will choose the big-name program guy, who helped win the Crimson Tide yet another national championship. 

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