Son of former Pro Bowl wide receiver Joe Horn, South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn has been getting a lot of buzz among Eagles fans lately. With the recent trade Howie Roseman pulled of to move back to No. 12, they’ll be in a perfect position to snag one of the top-3 cornerback prospect in this year’s class — Patrick Surtain II, Caleb Farley, and Horn.
Let’s take a look at Horn’s strength and weaknesses, and how he might fit in the Eagles defensive scheme if Howie decides to take this South Carolina product.
In nearly every scouting report you read about Jaycee Horn, the overwhelming consensus is that he’s the most physical cornerback in this draft. One look at his tape, and that assessment is justified.
Here’s a clip of Horn matched up with one of the most popular prospects in this entire draft class, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.
More often than not, Horn was lined up in press-man coverage on the outside. His 240 snaps lined up in press-man over the past two years is the second most among CBs in this year’s class.
Here, we see Horn playing press against a much bigger, taller receiver in Pitts. Nevertheless, Horn does an outstanding job at pushing Pitts towards the boundary and disrupting the route. Despite Pitts making the reception, Horn is in good position. Pitts is one of the most talked about prospects in this class for a reason and he showed it there.
Horn’s tape against Auburn this past year is the best indication of what his ceiling could be at the next level. He was an absolute menace against Auburn’s wideouts, most notably Seth Williams. Against Williams, Horn was targeted 9 times, while allowing 1 reception for 44 yards and recording 2 interceptions.
Horn forced a third interception on this pass breakup as well.
Among all SEC defensive backs, Horn posted the lowest completion percentage when targeted (33.3%) in 2020, which is the fourth-lowest among 524 qualified corners (200+ snaps) in the nation. He was also top-5 in the SEC in passer rating when targeted and coverage snaps/receptions.
Standing at 6’1″ and 205 pounds, while posting an impressive 4.39 40-yard-dash at his pro day, Horn has all the physical traits to be a solid outside corner in this league.
In Jonathan Gannon’s new defensive scheme, we’ll likely see the corners lined up close to the line of scrimmage. Horn is comfortable in that position and will likely thrive in it at the next level. His physicality and big stature will also be appealing to Gannon, who prefers that type of build in his corners.
If you want a corner that will be relentless at the point of attack and physically impose himself on wideouts, Horn is your guy
The two main areas of weakness for Horn is his tackling and inconsistency in off-man coverage.
I tend not to buy into concerns regarding tackling at the cornerback position. When you pay a corner, it’s never because of their tackling ability. You pay corners to make plays in coverage, and as I already went over, Horn does that at a high level. Whenever I hear from scouts that X corner is a poor tackler, it always feels like a reach just to give the guy some type of weakness.
As far as his skills in off-man coverage, that is a real concern for Horn at the next level. When matched up against arguably the best wide receiver in this year’s class, Alabama’s DeVonta Smith, Horn got absolutely torched.
Granted, this game was from 2019, and Horn has grown as a player since then. But Smith gives him the business regardless if Horn is lined up in press-man or off-man.
If you’re looking for a reason to pencil in Smith as your preferred selection at No. 12 for the Eagles, look no further.
As we saw against Pitts in the first half of this article, even when Horn does a good job at the point of attack, the best talent in this draft tends to beat him when it counts.
One other small concern in Horn’s game is the amount of penalties he may generate at the next level. While his physicality is undoubtedly a strength, it could cause quite a few flags in the NFL. The SEC allows a little more physicality between receivers and corners. If you breathe on a wide receiver in the NFL, the flag is likely going to get thrown.
I don’t think any of these “weaknesses” are enough to push Horn down a draft board. He’s still a great corner prospect, and in other years, he may have projected as the best in the class. But in this year’s crop with guys like Surtain and Farley, Horn doesn’t quite reach that elite level of “can’t miss prospect.”
It’s hard not to fall in love with his demeanor and physical play, especially as an Eagles fan. I just have a hard time placing him above Surtain and my personal favorite, Caleb Farley.
Horn will certainly improve the cornerback group for any team that he’s selected by, he just doesn’t strike me as a can’t miss talent like Surtain and Farley do.