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Is Jaycee Horn a prospect the Steelers could select early in the 2021 NFL Draft?

For teams who are looking for a cornerback in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jaycee Horn might be a prospect to keep an eye on.

South Carolina v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

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, or after.

There is the chance the Steelers choose to take a cornerback to bolster their depth at the position in 2021, and if South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn is available when the Steelers pick, is he an option for the team? Or would the cornerback position not be viewed as a first round need?

I did some digging on Horn, 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 Horn. 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 Horn 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.


Draft Profiles

The Draft Network

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.

Ideal Role: Starting outside corner

Scheme Fit: Predominantly zone and press coverage with minimal deployment of off-man coverage.

NFL.com

Overview

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.

Strengths

  • Comes from NFL bloodline.
  • Steps on the field with prototypical dimensions.
  • Plays to his size with physical man coverage.
  • Experienced moving coverage from outside to slot.
  • Capable of playing in a variety of coverage schemes.
  • Press punch is well-timed and executed on balanced platform.
  • Confident and patient squaring up release.
  • Slides and mirrors in impeding the route beyond the release.
  • Balances attention between route and quarterback.
  • Bodies up down the field before finding the football.
  • Able to track down receiver after allowing early separation.
  • Long-limbed attacker at the catch point.
  • Underrated blitzer with ability to slip blocks and get after quarterbacks.

Weaknesses

  • Very modest ball production for his level of traits and talent.
  • Hips get sticky in transition, causing minor delays to accelerate.
  • Too much blatant grabbing and holding during the route.
  • Flags will fly if he doesn’t learn to trust his feet and technique.
  • Average directional change when shadowing route.
  • Tunnel vision caused issues for him in coverage near goal line in 2020.
  • Too content to let others do dirty work in run support.
  • Needs more consistent approach and technique as tackler.

Sources Tell Us

“There just aren’t many corners in this league who have his traits and his man-cover talent. I think he’s got a chance to be special.” — Personnel executive for NFC team

Pro Football Network

  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 205 pounds
  • Position: Cornerback
  • School: South Carolina
  • Current Year: Junior

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.

Analysis: Horn is a large, athletic defensive back who plays aggressive football. He displayed tremendous development in his game last season and has all the necessary tools to develop into a No. 1 cornerback on Sundays. Horn comes with huge upside, and in time, he should develop into one of the better defenders to come from this year’s draft.

Fan Nation

Horn is a long physical cornerback who has good size and possesses excellent athletic ability. He’s quick, has very fluid hips to turn, and his lateral movement skills are impressive—he can turn and close width with excellent short-area burst.

He’s mostly a boundary corner but has played reps in the slot as well. Stance can be a bit high at times, and his center of gravity at the line of scrimmage could improve if I am nitpicking.

He is generally solid at the line of scrimmage in man coverage. He is very good at applying the inside jam and turn situations and has shown the ability to double hand jam, recollect, and gain advantageous positioning, which is a good sign of his play strength.

Typically does a good job staying square, shuffling to the inside hip of receivers, and committing his hips once the receiver has declared their route.

I have seen false steps on tape, and I’ve seen Horn open his gate a bit early as well, but it wasn’t overly consistent in his game. He does a solid job squeezing receivers to the sideline and reacting quickly to back-shoulder throws. His excellent change of direction ability assists him against shiftier wide receivers near the boundary as well.

Good in horizontal man coverage when he trails the inside hip and gets himself into position to disrupt the catch point. Can hook high at times and draw flags—he has to lower his outside hand to mitigate that type of laundry. He stays in phase of wide receivers well, and his athletic ability makes him very valuable in forcing incompletions.

He plays with good vision in zone coverage, comes off routes while eyeing the quarterback, and attacks with solid timing and excellent aggressiveness. Possesses good mental processing when in zone coverage and uses good eye discipline.

Ball skills are very good in terms of disruption. He is very controlled with his hands and technique at the catch point to disallow easy completions - this was very much on display against Seth Williams and Auburn in 2020.

He plays with substantial competitive toughness and loves to jaw. He is solid in run support and plays with solid play strength. He is aggressive and has some intriguing highlights of him dominating opponents in this phase, but it’s not overly consistent, and he has missed several tackles.

Overall, Horn is a potential first-round selection who brings man coverage ability to a defense, as well as a ton of physicality. He should be an impact player in the National Football League.


Breakdowns / Highlights


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