The Panthers turned some heads on the first night of the 2021 NFL Draft by selecting South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn eighth overall. QB Justin Fields, OT Rashawn Slater, and many who tabbed as the top corner in the draft, Patrick Surtain II, were all still on the board when the Panthers went on the clock. Instead, Carolina fell in love with Horn and made him the first defensive player to be drafted in 2021.
Donte Jackson, A.J. Bouye, and Rashaan Melvin are also going to be in the mix at corner for the Panthers but none of them have the ceiling that Horn has. The stats may not show how productive he was in college but Horn was without a doubt the best man coverage corner in the country which is something the Panthers need on their defense to be able to compete against the high-powered offenses in the NFC South.
Even if you watch just a couple minutes worth of Horn's film. you can tell right away that he has all traits of being a lockdown corner in the NFL. The toughness, physicality, speed, ball skills, swagger is all there. Can he be the next Jalen Ramsey or Stephon Gilmore? It's way too early to tell but we did bring in Lorenz Leinweber of the NFL Draft Bible on Sports Illustrated to provide his take.
Unlike other sons of NFL players, Jaycee, the son of former Saints wide receiver Joe Horn did not choose to play the same position as his father. This decision stemmed from the competitiveness that is still apparent in his game today. Jaycee wanted to guard his old man, showing a fearlessness that he will carry into the NFL.
The eighth overall pick by the Carolina Panthers is a physical press cornerback who is best jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. His quick feet and twitch allow him to punch and enforce his will on opponents when he is square. Horn has fluid hips and great speed to carry routes vertically and stay in the hip pocket of wideouts. When the ball is in the air, the former Gamecock attacks it aggressively, making plays through the receivers’ hands In zone coverage, he is instinctive and uses his athleticism to click and close rapidly. Horn can be a little too grabby and have his hips high, allowing for separation at the top of routes.
Press-man coverage is the most important coverage for NFL cornerbacks and there are few that master it. Jaycee Horn has the physicality, athleticism, and demeanor to do it at a high level. His ball skills are an asset that only the best of the best have. Due to his great attitude, Horn will not lose confidence when he goes through the inevitable struggles of rookie cornerbacks. Being thrown into the fire against the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Michael Thomas, and Julio Jones will not be easy but Horn has everything needed to be a shutdown cornerback in the NFL.
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