By Dylan MacKinnon
Most cornerback talk around the Eagles has been around Patrick Surtain II. And that may be for good reason, as we discussed earlier. But there is another SEC Corner that is flying under the radar, who some think will be even better than Surtain. South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn. And like Surtain, he is another player with a father who played at a high level in the NFL. His father is none other than Joe Horn, 4 time pro bowler, and member of the Saints Hall of Fame.
Shutting Down the SEC
I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but Ill say this again. When someone dominates in the SEC, it’s a decent sign they can keep up in the NFL. Horn certainly dominated in the SEC.
Similar to Surtain, he made his mark right away, cementing himself as a starter his freshmen year. He started 11 of 12 games, and then remained a starter until he opted out midway through this last year. Before that opt out though, he played 7 games, with two interceptions, and 6 pass deflections. He also had the lowest completion percentage allowed in the SEC. Opposing QBs completed only 24% of passes when throwing his way.
Perhaps more impressive, is when in man coverage, he had more pass breakups than catches allowed.
Draft CB3 Jaycee Horn on 124 man coverage snaps in 2020:— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) March 10, 2021
🔒 4 catches allowed
🔒 5 forced incompletions pic.twitter.com/4sRTfGUZHz
He allowed only 8 catches total over 240 snaps, so 4 in man, 4 in zone. All this while going up against the best WRS the SEC has to offer, including Auburn’s Seth Williams who he held to only one catch on 9 targets. Both his interceptions came in that matchup. Seth Williams by the way was top 30 in yards in the NCAA last year.
If you like a corner that is going to be described as “fiery”, Horn is your guy. He showed his UofSC team mates early that he is a guy who talks a big game, but backs it up with an even bigger game. South Carolina QB Jake Bentley noticed this early in camp.
“Fall camp, I probably didn’t talk to him because he (intercepted) me a few times, making me mad. He’s got the mindset that no one can run past him and no one can beat him. Whether or not he makes the play is on him, but just the mindset he has to come out to practice and bring it every day. He’s gonna talk junk, he’s gonna get in your face, he’s gonna make sure you know he’s there. It’s cool to see the competition he brings.”
And that competitiveness shows up in how he plays corner. He is not afraid to get physical, and to make the opposing WR feel his presence.
CB is one of my favorite positions to scout. You get to see how competitive and confident some are. Watch Jaycee Horn. Extremely competitive player. pic.twitter.com/KaT7AsnDSB— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) January 7, 2021
Perhaps too Physical
The knock on him may not have anything to do with his ability, but that he plays so physical, it results in flags a bit too often. He was flagged 5 times in only 7 games, and that was an issue that followed him through all 3 years at South Carolina.
His coach Will Muschamp talked about this issue after one particularly bad penalty his freshmen year vs Kentucky. But he seemed more excited that Horn is a guy willing to leave it all on the field, than worried about the penalties Horn causes.
“You know what? At the end of the day, he’s really excited about playing for South Carolina and we step over the line sometimes. I would rather say whoa than giddy-up. With Jaycee Horn, I have to say that a lot which is an awesome thing to be able to say.”
Still, it’s an issue to monitor, especially considering that cornerbacks are more penalized than ever before. I don’t think I need to convince many that there are much more pass interference and defensive holding penalties being called in today’s game. But in case you think that is over blown, here are the actual numbers; as far back as I could find them recorded.
So in the last 3 years, there has been an average of 506 combined pass interference and defensive holding penalties. A decade ago that yearly average was 314. Its harder than ever before for a physical, man to man corner like Horn. He will likely be a oft penalized player in the NFL. It’s just a question of if that trade off is worth his talent. Are you willing to deal with the occasional pass interference if it gets you a guy who can keep up with the likes of a Amari Cooper and shut them down?
What the Experts Say
“Three-year starter with tantalizing combination of size and length that is clearly effective when matched in tight man coverage. Horn can line up in any cover scheme and often traveled with the opponent’s most talented target. He plays with desired eye discipline from zone and the talent to impede release from press. He does an above-average job of closing, crowding and eliminating comfortable windows for quarterbacks to throw into, but his route anticipation is average. Horn can play with solid technique, but he became too reliant on the college game’s tendency to allow mauling beyond five yards and that must be cleaned up moving forward. He needs more consistent effort in run support, but the traits and upside are extremely appealing despite a lack of high-end ball production. Horn offers immediate starting help with a high upside.”
“Horn is one of the most physical, aggressive cornerbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft. The South Carolina cornerback has a long, lean build, and uses his length both at the line and in coverage. He’s not shy when attacking his opponents in press coverage, and his aggressive nature also shows up at the catch point, where he doesn’t hesitate to impact the ball.”
“His size, length, and physicality show up in coverage where he is highly disruptive in press and ultra-competitive at the catch point. The concerns with Horn show up primarily as a tackler and playing off-man coverage. Unfortunately, Horn doesn’t play to his weight class as a tackler and there are too many missed tackles on film. Additionally, Horn can be guilty of guessing when mirroring routes, leading to false steps, which is problematic given how segmented his transitions can be in the first place.”
Horn was likely not a real option for the Eagles when they were at 6. But after trading back to 12, Horn might be the perfect fit. His play style and attitude would likely fit well with the type of guy Philly fans want. He is not the perfect prospect, but his upside is high. Its been a long time since the Eagles have has a home grown elite corner. You’d have to go back to the days of Lito Shepard and Sheldon Brown. Jaycee Horn could change that.
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