According to multiple reports, Denver Broncos General Manager George Paton is among the select few General Manager’s attending South Carolina’s Pro Day. The main draw to this Pro Day is the potential first-round pick, cornerback, Jaycee Horn.
Five GMs in Columbia, SC for today's @GamecockFB pro-day to checkout likely first-round CB Jaycee Horn and dynamic WR Shi Smith:— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) March 24, 2021
Saints Jeff Ireland
Dolphins Chris Grier
Broncos George Paton
Packers Brian Gutekunst
Titans Jon Robinson
* Also Titans HC Mike Vrabel
Horn is a 6’1”, 205lb cornerback who played his college ball at South Carolina and is considered one of the top cornerbacks in the country. He played three seasons at South Carolina, and during that time he totaled 101 tackles, 7 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 23 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles.
By many accounts, Horn is either considered the second or third best cornerback in this year's draft class. Now, with Caleb Farley’s back concerns, Horn could be competing with Alabama’s Patrick Surtain for being the first cornerback to come off the board during next month’s 2021 NFL Draft.
The Draft Network ranks Horn as their third-best cornerback in the 2021 NFL Draft and has him as their 28th best player overall in the draft as well. Here is what TDN’s Joe Marino has to say about South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn.
The son of four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Joe Horn, South Carolina Gamecocks cornerback Jaycee Horn enters the NFL after three seasons in the SEC where he demonstrated consistent growth. After primarily playing in the slot in 2018, Horn played out wide in 2019 and 2020 where he projects best in the NFL. Horn has a long and stocky frame that is built for competing with X-receivers in the NFL. 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. If used correctly and with development, Horn can be a quality starter, especially if his ball skills continue to progress as they did in 2020.
NFL Network’s lead draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah also has Horn graded highly. He also has him ranked as his third-best cornerback in the draft behind Farely and Surtain and grades him as his 23rd best prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Horn is a big, physical cornerback with plenty of speed and instincts. He’s physical with his hands to consistently re-route in press coverage. He is fluid when he opens up and can run/stay in phase with vertical routes. His short-area quickness is good for a big cornerback. However, he has some bad habits to break in off coverage. He catches and grabs too much. He will draw a lot of flags at the next level if that doesn’t get cleaned up. He does do a good job of locating and playing the ball downfield. He has outstanding hands to finish with the ball. He is more than willing in run support (see: huge hit versus Auburn). Overall, Horn needs to play with more confidence from off coverage (to avoid panicking and grabbing), but he has the skills to excel right away as a press-man cornerback.
While Marino does have some concerns about his tackling, Horn is known as a physical corner who’s also a willing and physical tackler as well. These are traits that Broncos Head Coach and defensive mastermind Vic Fangio like to see from a corner so it makes sense that they would be showing some interest in Horn.
Now, with Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby signed, a cornerback isn’t a pressing need anymore. However, Fuller and Bryce Callahan are only signed through this season and could leave via free agency at the end of the season. I could see one or both of them receiving an extension midseason, especially if it appears that Vic Fangio isn’t on the hot seat, but as of now, cornerback will be a big need once again in 2022. That’s why drafting a corner like Horn in 2021 makes sense. It would allow them to ease slowly into the NFL their rookie season before receiving more playing time and potentially a starting job in 2022 if one or both of Fuller and Callahan leave via free agency.
I personally would rather see the Broncos go in another direction this offseason. You can always add corner depth later in the draft and I think the team has bigger fish to fry in the draft. However, I wouldn’t hate this selection at all. Horn is a talented corner who fits the defensive scheme very well and with Patrick Mahomes in your division, you cannot have too many talented corners on your roster.