Every year, between now and draft day is like the stock market -- the stock goes up and down on draft prospects and so is the case with cornerback Caleb Farley out of Virginia Tech.
Armed already with Jeff Okudah -- who I still think is going to easily develop into an elite shutdown corner -- the Lions sure could use a tall corner as the No. 2 guy, lining up opposite Okudah.
Farley fits that profile, like a football splitting the uprights.
The fact he was an opt-out player is the biggest wildcard to me. He was the first in the country to opt out from the 2020 college football season, and he made national headlines by doing so.
This whole opt-out phenomenon is something new, and honestly, none of us know what the effects will be.
I get players get hurt and sit out seasons. I am just saying that things sometimes can change with a year of no game action -- things that a Pro Day may not be able to reveal. All it does is raise the risk side of the equation.
With that said, tall and smooth corners are a premium. And while I projected Farley as a low second-to-third-round pick a couple months ago, I think his stock is going to go up the closer we get to draft day — especially if he checks out at his workouts and has the right agent.
Corners like Farley do not grow on trees, and he reminds me of former NFL defensive back DeAngelo Hall, who had a nice career.
CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech -- 6-foot-2, 207 pounds; 4.37 (40-yard dash time)
Grade: B+ (Good player, but not elite; he's good enough to win with, however)
Kelly’s draft board: End of first round-early second round
Lanky-looking and fundamentally-sound, pure cover corner with long arms, swag and above-average playing speed. Smooth operator. Able to play off or come up and press. Able to pedal, transition, flip hips fluidly and get up and go. Technically solid-looking. Tends to bait quarterbacks and maybe take perceived chances. But, to him, it is calculated. Can close well enough to make up a lot, if not all the difference. Good change-of-direction matching routes. Good ball skills and ball instincts. Will battle receivers. Has some physicality to his game. Can come up, bang and make the stop. I like his confidence.
At times, made it look like he was the receiver running the route, as he has a real knack to get leverage on routes. Disruptive. Shows some visible excitement. Has some dynamic play-making ability to him. Has blitz upside. Very solid-looking prospect on film.
He began tagging along with his brother to play pickup football games when he was just five years old. And, Farley first told his dad at the age of six that he wanted to be a professional football player.
While in high school, Farley played quarterback, and put up 4,500 yards passing and 50 touchdowns. Plus, he had 71 rushing TDs while being under center.
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Early on at Virginia Tech, he received some playing time in a spring game at receiver, and produced 90 yards and drew three pass-interference calls before blowing out his knee (ACL) shortly thereafter.
He was moved to defense in 2019, and Pro Football Focus called him, “One of the stingiest corners in the country when it comes to limiting passes.”
Farley has been mentored by Los Angeles Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward, who said Farley “smoked him" in a race when the two were working out together.
I like Farley a lot. He resonated with me and not many do. He has that look and feel to him.
I absolutely like him better than Georgia’s Tyson Campbell, who is a late first-round projection by ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper. Campbell is not nearly as smooth or as agile in the hips as Farley.
I can not state enough how important confidence, swag and physicality are at corner. Remember, new Lions GM Brad Holmes comes from the L.A. Rams which have Jalen Ramsey.
And, while the position is the second-hardest one next to quarterback to come in and start as a rookie, this would make a sweet tandem in Detroit.
I can not help but think that if the Lions can somehow grab him in the early second or maybe trade up to "intercept" him, he and Okudah can grow together, and the Lions can then cross that off their list for the next decade.
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