Among the 1.9 trillion 2021 NFL mock drafts, one name has become very popular in the No. 16 spot. On Tuesday, mocks published on ESPN, CBS Sports, NFL.com and The Athletic all had South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn projected to put on an Arizona Cardinals hat on April 29. The day before, the NFL Draft Bible via si.com also had Horn as Arizona's selection.
Horn will participate in South Carolina's Pro Day Wednesday, and he addressed members of the media Tuesday. When asked by AZCardinals.com writer Kyle Odegard about potentially joining the Cardinals, he gave a positive response.
"I feel like I fit in well and it would be a blessing to go play in Arizona," Horn said.
The team need at cornerback is clear. Longtime corner Patrick Peterson left in free agency for Minnesota and a replacement is needed on the outside. Arizona general manager Steve Keim has not added a new corner in free agency as of Tuesday.
Keim told local media Monday the position is one he continues to monitor, whether it be through free agency, a trade or the draft. There are still free-agent possibilities, but Horn represents a potential long-term solution.
Horn said that he was a fan of the Cardinals secondary when Peterson, safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback Jerraud Powers all operated in it. Those three were Cardinals from 2013-2015, when the team won 34 games in three years.
Growing up in Gwinnett County in Georgia as the son of former Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints receiver Joe Horn, Jaycee Horn was surrounded by competition throughout his life. Even playing park football, people wanted to get the best of an NFL player's son.
"My dad, the way I was raised, real competitive household, it was just always been that way growing up," Horn said. "I just loved knowing that people was at my neck. Being Joe Horn's son, I loved that people wanted to knock me out just because of that."
In that spirit, Horn said he believes that he is the best defensive player in his draft class, regardless of where he gets selected.
"People don't realize it's just a draft, like you still got to go play football after this," Horn said. "When I say I'm the best defensive player in the draft, that's not a statement to get teams to be like 'Oh, he has good confidence.' I actually feel that way, so no matter if I'm first round, seventh round, undrafted, when I step on the field I'm going to show that."
Horn presents good size at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds and displays impressive athleticism on tape.
He said that playing against former Gamecocks and current NFL receivers Deebo Samuel and Brian Edwards in practice has been good preparation for the next level. The corner also noted that he's guarded targets of many body types like 6-foot-6 Florida tight end Kyle Pitts and 170-pound Alabama receiver and Heisman winner DeVonta Smith.
"I hang my hat on press man-to-man. I find that to be a great corner, you've got to be good at that," Horn said. "Also my IQ and just my competitiveness, how I attack the field and how I attack every game and practice and even in the meeting room."
For what he needs to improve and is working on ahead of the draft is his straight-up back-pedaling and tackling ability.
The Cardinals defense took a big step forward last season in Year 2 under coordinator Vance Joseph.
They targeted defense in the 2020 draft with the selection of linebacker Isaiah Simmons eighth overall. This offseason, they added J.J. Watt to bolster the defensive line and edge rusher Chandler Jones will return from a biceps injury that held him out for most of last year.
If Horn is available at pick 16, he would be in position to fill the last gaping hole on the Cardinals defense.