Our Scouting Report Series continues where we break down the top prospects for the 2021 NFL draft. Today, we are talking about the consensus #3 CB in the draft. Before you go on, be sure to check out any of our previous scouting reports you might have missed!

QB RB WR TE OL EDGE IDL LB CB S
Justin Fields N/A Ja’Marr Chase Kyle Pitts Penei Sewell N/A N/A Chazz Surratt Patrick Surtain II Jevon Holland
Zach Wilson   DeVonta Smith   Creed Humphrey       Caleb Farley Trevon Moehrig
Trey Lance                  

Measurables and Numbers 

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 205 pounds

A look at Jaycee Horn’s College Performance

Horn was a 4-star recruit from Alpharetta High School in Alpharetta, Georgia. The son of NFL standout WR Joe Horn, Jaycee was ranked 145 nationally by ESPN and received offers to many Power 5 Schools. Horn first committed to Tennessee, but later de-committed and decided to attend South Carolina.  

Horn started 10 of 11 possible games as a true freshman and earned All-SEC honors for his production of 45 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, and 8 pass breakups. As a sophomore, he put up similar production with 40 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 9 pass breakups, and 2 forced fumbles, but this time did not earn an All-SEC selection. In 2020, Horn notched the first interception of his college career. He played 7 games for South Carolina before the team fired their head coach while the team sat with a 2-5 record. Following the firing, Horn decided not to play in the team’s final 3 games of the year.

Current Draft Projection

PFF – 24th overall/CB3

Daniel Jeremiah – 23rd overall/CB3

The Draft Network – 28th overall/CB3

Strengths

Physicality

Horn is the most physical and aggressive defensive back in this draft class. When playing on the line in man coverage, he frequently overwhelmed opposing receivers and erased them from plays. He has the limitless confidence that you expect from a cornerback and will never back down from anyone.

 
 
Aggressiveness at the catch point

Horn’s alpha mentality doesn’t end at the conclusion of a press interaction. It translates to the catch point as well. He is relentless in attacking the football and is very disruptive at the catch point.  

Anticipation in Zone Coverage

Horn is very good in zone coverage. He hits his landmarks well while staying cued into the backfield and has a good feel for space. Zone coverage helps to hide some of his weaknesses in terms of footwork and fluidity (more on that later) but also takes away his greatest strength which is his press ability.

While these particular reps aren’t in zone coverage, they do give you an idea about the anticipation ability that Horn has on the field.

Versatility

Horn played in the slot in 2018 and on the outside in 2019 and 2020. He can play both press man and zone coverage but struggles with off-man coverage. As long as you aren’t primarily an off-man team, Horn can plug into a lot of spots and coverages for you, although I think his best fit will be on the outside.

Athleticism 

Horn is a sufficient, but not a standout athlete. Reports emerged that he recently ran a 4.39 40 and if that time isn’t exaggerated it doesn’t show up on the field. His athletic profile is solid for a corner of his size and physicality. He isn’t going to get burned downfield because of his speed, but he isn’t going to wow anyone in that area either.

Weaknesses

Tackling

As aggressive and physical as Horn is in press coverage, you would expect to see a dominant tackler and force defender in the running game. And yet, when you put on the tape, you simply don’t see that. There are flashes of that ability, but it is more the exception than the norm. He looks tentative at times and then at other times, he looks reckless as a tackler leading to hits like this one.

Poor Technique

Horn is guilty of playing too upright at times, which impacts his lateral mobility and leads to separation from the receiver. This is due more to technique than lack of athletic ability. His footwork gets sloppy at the top of route stems, and he relies on his overwhelming physicality to mirror routes. Horn is a player who is going to draw a lot of flags at the NFL level until he learns to rely less on physical contact to stick to receivers. He does not have a secondary tool to go to if he is unable to stick a receiver at the line of scrimmage.

Lack of Interceptions

I mentioned Horn’s aggressiveness at the catch point earlier as a strength. While it is true that he is great at attacking the ball, he struggles to come down with interceptions. He didn’t record his 1st interception until his 3rd season at the collegiate level and is unlikely to record many interceptions at the next level.

Intangibles

Horn drew a lot of criticism for his decision to stop playing football midway through the 2020 season. At 2-5, South Carolina fired their head coach, and the next day Horn announced that he was done. In an interview talking about the decision, he said, “It was a big decision, mainly because we were struggling and I felt I was risking a lot going back out there those last three games.”  NFL coaches may be concerned about his decision to stop playing mid-season when his team was struggling on the field.

Summary

Horn is a physically aggressive cornerback who has a high ceiling at the next level if he can push through the early struggles I expect him to have. He will not be able to get away with the level of physicality he used in college at the NFL level. If he is able to refine his technique, he could thrive in years 2-3 and beyond, but if he is thrown into the fire in year 1 I’m afraid that his bad technique will become more ingrained and he might never recover.  

Fit With The Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have a desperate need at cornerback, particularly on the outside. Horn would be the biggest corner on the Eagles roster and a day 1 starter opposite of Darius Slay. However, I have big concerns about Horn starting in year 1 relating to his technique and development timeline. He would be a good fit for a split field safety scheme, allowing him to play press man at the line of scrimmage or sit in short zones and attack downhill. I believe Horn is a good schematic fit but will likely go in the mid to late first round and thus is unlikely to fall to the Eagles at 37. If Horn were there at the top of the 2nd round I’m not entirely sure that I would be comfortable with picking him that high, but he could turn into an ultimate value pick at that spot.