With our first two prospect profiles of the draft season, we focused on the offensive side of the ball, breaking down two of the best pass catchers entering this year’s draft, Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase. Now we’re going to flip sides and take a look at perhaps the best cornerback in the entire class, Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley.
Farley is a complete freak of nature physically. Not often do you find a corner who has sub 4.4 speed while standing 6-foot-2 and weighing over 200 pounds. The best athletes in the NFL are usually found at the wide receiver position, and Farley is one of the rare CB prospects who’s capable of matching up with every wideout he faces from a physical standpoint.
He puts his great size and speed to good use on the field, routinely making plays on the ball in coverage. And when he does find himself a bit out of position, his recovery speed is good enough to make up for it.
This play showcases some of that recovery speed. He puts himself at a bit of a disadvantage keeping his eyes in the backfield for a half a second too long, but once he recognizes the route concept, he does a nice job of flipping the hips and catching up to the wideout to break up the pass. This would be considered wide open in the NFL, and Farley closes the gap rather quickly.
Here’s another one where Farley uses his speed to make up for somewhat bad technique. Notice how he doesn’t get a hand up to jam the receiver at the line in a press situation. Despite not using his size to prevent the wideout from getting downfield, Farley remains in his hip pocket the whole way down the field and makes the interception in the end zone.
Speaking of interceptions, this guy has some of the best ball skills you’ll see out of a CB prospect. Most of that is probably due to the fact that he started out as a wide receiver before switching to corner. That experience as a pass catcher obviously serves him well. Take a look at this pick.
Great stuff. The Eagles haven’t had a cornerback with elite ball skills since Asante Samuel nearly 10 years ago. It would be really nice to get a ballhawk back in this secondary.
Farley also has a very high IQ for a corner who hasn’t played the position very long. He does a nice job of handing off coverage when in zone and his route recognition is already at a very high level.
Here’s another play against Miami in a goal line situation. Farley knows almost immediately what the receiver is trying to do, he then uses that elite speed to beat the receiver to the spot and make the interception.
Given his physical ability and stature, there isn’t anything Farley can’t do at the NFL level. He can fit into nearly any defensive scheme. And as we know, defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon prefers long, rangy corners in his system. Farley certainly fits that bill, while also possessing the speed usually only found in smaller corners.
In his final year at VT, Farley allowed only 36% of the passes thrown his way to get completed, dropping from 48% the previous year. Farley is an ascending player who hasn’t even reached his full potential yet, which is downright scary.
Truthfully, there aren’t many glaring weaknesses in Farley’s game. It may be concerning to some that he opted out of the 2020 season and hasn’t been on the field in over a year, but that shouldn’t be a knock on his ability at all.
Like I stated above, he is still new to the position, only having two years under his belt at VT. Again, watching his film, that isn’t evident at all. He looks like a pure corner through and through.
Although, he does rely on his speed a bit too much at times. He’ll sometimes fail to get a hand on the receiver at the line or bite on double moves, but those technical aspects of his game can be coached up at the next level. Gannon has made a living developing corners in the NFL, and Farley would probably be the best prospect he’s ever worked with.
His tackling is hit or miss, but if you’re drafting a CB as high as 6, it’s not because he’s an elite tackler. By no means does he shy away from contact, his tackling form just isn’t as clean as other defensive back prospects.
At No. 6 in this year’s draft, the Eagles could see Farley fall right into their laps. It’s hard to say if they’ll opt to go defense. Reports recently indicated that the team is going to try and surround Jalen Hurts with as much talent as possible this year.
While that mode of thinking is understandable, I’d argue that corner is a bigger need for this team. Aside from Darius Slay, the corner back group on this team is full of question marks. There isn’t even a No. 2 corner on this roster right now.
Farley fills that need immediately. And in a few years, he’ll take over for Slay as the team’s No. 1 corner.
I miss the days of having elite players in the Eagles secondary, especially at the corner back position. Farley feels like a sure thing and the Eagles won’t even have to move up to get him. I’d love to see this Virginia Tech product in midnight green for years to come.
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