The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of many NFL organizations who could be looking at a cornerback in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. However, unlike the other franchises who are looking to add to their defensive back depth chart, the Steelers possess the 24th overall pick.
Not really conducive to getting a top tier prospect, but after players like Patrick Surtain, there are a lot of talented defensive backs who could be available to the Steelers at pick No. 24.
There is the chance the Steelers choose to take a cornerback to bolster their depth at the position in 2021, and if Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley is available when the Steelers pick, is he an option as a first round talent? Are the health risks surrounding the talented cornerback too much for even the Steelers?
I did some digging on Farley, and put together a brief synopsis of the kind of player he is, and will be when becoming a professional. Below you’ll see draft profile breakdowns, film room breakdowns and game film for you to enjoy.
Don’t listen to me, or anyone else, form your own opinion on Farley. I plan on doing this for other prospects as the draft approaches. If there is a specific player you’d like to see covered, simply let me know and I’ll be glad to put it together!
Let us know your thoughts on Farley in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.
Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley enters the NFL after playing quarterback in high school, beginning his college career as a wide receiver, and then transitioning to defense where he shined as a cornerback for the Hokies in 2019. While he is new to the position, his film does not resemble a player that is still learning the ropes. Farley brings a rare blend of physical traits to the table in terms of size, length, quickness, fluidity, and athleticism that he pairs with exceptional man coverage skills that make him an exciting NFL prospect. Not only is he sticky in man coverage, Farley has game-changing ball skills and is an alpha in coverage. Unfortunately, his injury history is concerning. Farley suffered a non-contact ACL tear in 2017 that forced him to miss the season and then missed the last two games in 2019 due to back spasms, an issue Justin Fuente said Farley dealt with all season long. When it comes to on-the-field issues, Farley is a fairly complete prospect that is clearly ascending but sharpening his zone coverage skills would be beneficial. Additionally, he needs to develop his tackling technique to decrease an alarming amount of whiffs on tape. Farley has a full toolbox of traits to develop into a shutdown corner at the next level that can create takeaways.
Ideal Role: Starting outside cornerback
Scheme Fit: Schemes that feature large amounts of press and man coverage
Farley possesses rare size for the position and does an excellent job of utilizing his frame and length to charge rent inside the catch space. While his traits and ball skills will be coveted, he’s still light on overall reps at the cornerback position. He needs to continue to improve his technique and discipline as he displays inconsistencies staying connected to routes at times. Farley is an ascending talent who fits more cleanly in a press-heavy scheme. Might require early patience as he continues to gain the polish necessary to become a quality NFL starter.
- Big, long and can run.
- Improved his pattern recognition later in the 2019 season.
- Hassles receivers with length and strength.
- Plus route redirection from zone coverage.
- Appears to have physical attributes needed to cover mismatch tight ends.
- Stays in phase from press coverage.
- Stalls the release with effective one- or two-hand punch.
- Maintains focus and positioning when tracking deep targets.
- Shows straight-line closing speed when he opens his stride.
- Ball skills come naturally for him.
- Attacks on the throw are typically well-timed and extremely rigorous.
- Takes play-side angles in challenging passing lanes.
- Excellent use of hand-fighting and body positioning constricts catch space.
- Has potential for rapid improvement as run defender with more work.
- Needs more coaching to improve fundamentals and technique.
- Clunky backpedal with a tendency to open his hips too early.
- Plays too tall, creating turbulent transitions to chase route breaks.
- More reactive than instinctive from off-man at this time.
- Could struggle staying connected with complex routes.
- Average click-and-close from the top of his drop.
- Interference penalties pop up when he doesn’t work to find the football.
- Inconsistent balance and form as run-support tackler.
- Some missed tackles ended up costing his team points.
Positives: Excellent-sized cornerback with outstanding speed and ball skills. Physical, jams receivers at the line of scrimmage and mixes it up throughout the route. Quick and fluid pedaling in reverse, easily flips his hips and loses nothing in transition. Stays on the receiver’s hip out of breaks, nicely covers opponents on crossing patterns, and possesses an explosive closing burst.
Effective backed off the line of scrimmage or facing the action, remains disciplined with assignments, and rarely gets challenged by opponents. Does a terrific job getting his head back around and locating the ball in the air. Works hard to get off blocks and make plays up the field against the run.
Negatives: Misreads the action and loses assignments on occasion. Instincts run hot and cold. Possesses a thin frame and must improve his playing strength. Had back surgery in March, missing pro day workouts, and may not be ready for football until later this summer.
Analysis: Farley was a terrific cornerback at Virginia Tech since his freshman season, and I’ve had him highly graded since that time. While I like Farley, I never saw him be a consistent shutdown corner during his time at Virginia Tech and believe he made a mistake opting out of the 2020 season. He’s incredibly athletic, possesses good ball skills, and comes with a large upside.
Farley comes with good scheme versatility to be used backed off the line of scrimmage in a zone scheme or in man coverage. While he will ultimately be a good NFL corner, I believe there will be bumps in the road before he gets there.