Defense Defense Defense. That's what the Dallas Cowboys' main focus should and probably will be in the 2021 NFL draft. They have holes to fill on all three levels, but the position that's drawing the most attention in the first round is cornerback.
The two names that have been linked the most to the Cowboys with the 10th overall have been Alabama's Patrick Surtain and Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley, who many consider being the top-two cornerbacks in the draft. However, the man who's looked at as the third-best at the position, South Carolina's Jaycee Horn, just may end up being the answer for the Cowboys as they look to add their CB2 opposite 2020 second-round pick, Trevon Diggs.
Pauline's scouting report of Horn:
Positives: Athletic corner with outstanding size and a developing game. Quick flipping his hips in transition, feisty, and mixes it up with receivers throughout the route. Works to get his head back around, tracks the pass in the air, and has a nice move to the throw. Plays tough, physical football and beats down opponents to knock away passes.
Effective facing the action, stays on the receiver’s hip out of breaks, and has an explosive closing burst. Does not back down to a challenge and battles bigger receivers throughout the route. Displays outstanding awareness in man coverage. Effectively covers receivers on crossing patterns. Plays to his size and gives effort defending the run.
Negatives: Very quick to leave his backpedal. Must do a better job securing tackles in the open field. Late reacting in zone coverage.
The Georgia native originally committed to Tennessee before deciding to take his talents to South Carolina. In 2018, Horn started 10 of 11 games and was named Freshman All-SEC after recording 45 tackles, eight pass breakups, and two sacks. His sophomore year was stellar as well as he registered 40 tackles, nine pass breakups, and a sack.
Horn would decide to opt-out the remainder of the 2020 season and prepare for the NFL draft after just seven games due to the Gamecocks struggles and family issues related to the coronavirus pandemic. Although the sample size was small, Horn was still productive with six pass breakups and the only two interceptions of his collegiate career (both against Auburn).
Jaycee Horn's game vs. Auburn is one of the most fun cornerback tapes you will ever watch. pic.twitter.com/8fmSbdnWpM
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) February 11, 2021
Horn moved his name up draft boards a few days ago after he ran 4.39 in the 40-yard dash according to ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller.
As mentioned earlier, Horn ranks just behind Surtain and Farley by most evaluators. However, Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy explained recently why he thinks Horn is the best prospect of the three on ESPN's NFL Mock Draft 2.0 Special.
“To me, Jaycee Horn out of South Carolina, another bigger, longer body guy, is better than them both,” Nagy said. “The reason I like Jaycee so much is, one, when you talk about press man and off-man, Jaycee probably does both things better than the other two — in terms of having versatility and how you can use him. Two, I just love the confidence, the swag, and the aggressiveness that he plays with.
“That's what truly separates him from those other two. Both Surtain and Farley are great, but I'm taking Horn if I'm trying to be a DB room.”
The former Gamecock comes from premium NFL stock but on the other side of the ball. His father, Joe Horn, played wide receiver for 12 seasons and made four Pro Bowls as a member of the New Orleans Saints.
If cornerback is the way the Cowboys go in the first round they have plenty to choose from, and Horn's name should be high on the list.