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NFL Draft

Jaycee Horn Vying For CB1 Spot

  • The Draft Network
  • March 24, 2021
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Jaycee Horn enters the draft cycle with traits only a couple other players at his position can relate to; professional lineage. For Horn, it’s his father Joe, a four-time Pro Bowler during his 12-year career highlighted by four Pro Bowl appearances. 

The others? Patrick Surtain II, the former Alabama defensive back whose father, Patrick Surtain Sr., made his name with the Miami Dolphins in the early 2000s, and Asante Samuel Jr., the former Florida State Seminole whose father, Asante Samuel Sr., enjoyed an illustrious 11-year career with two Super Bowl titles, four Pro Bowls, and was an All-Pro honoree in 2007 as a New England Patriot.

See a trend here? Each of them; Horn, Surtain, and Samuel, all corners, all vying to step out of their father’s shadows, all attempting to become the first corner off the board in late April.

For Horn, like his father, he wasn’t shy to speak his mind when asked what separates him from the other secondary talents in his class.

“I feel like I’m the best defensive player in the draft,” Horn told reporters Tuesday.

“I’m versatile. I got the size, speed… I’m athletic. I faced every receiver’s body type from Kyle Pitts (Florida) to Elijah Moore (Ole Miss) and [Heisman Trophy winner] DeVonta Smith.”

As a Gamecock, Horn developed into a shutdown corner similar to former South Carolina talent and 2019 NFL Defensive Player of The Year Stephon Gilmore. In 30 games, Horn totaled 101 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, and 23 passes defended, a number attributed to Horn’s innate ability to close on the football in space, leaving minimal wiggle room for receivers. He has ideal size at 6-foot-1 and an aggressive style of play that starts from the opening whistle. 

He was everywhere for South Carolina, and many believe he, not Surtain, should become the top corner taken on April 29. 

“I just love the confidence, the swag, and the aggressiveness that he plays with,” Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy said of Horn. “The reason I like Jaycee so much is, one, when you talk about press-man and off-man, Jaycee probably does both things better than the other two (Surtain and Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley).”

High expectations aren’t something out of the norm for Horn, who was a highly touted recruit out of Alpharetta, Georgia. He understands his namesake comes with a reputation, and from his first snaps in youth football to his last snap at South Carolina, opposing players have “been at his neck” trying to outplay and embarrass Horn any chance they get on the gridiron.

“Everywhere you go you had people competing… the stars, the rankings, it didn’t mean anything in Georgia. Even with me being a high name coming out of high school, I just loved knowing that people were at my neck being Joe Horn’s son, I loved people who tried to knock me off just because of that.”

Much is to be said surrounding the cornerback position in today’s NFL, where supply is in high demand as the Julio Jones’, D.K. Metcalfs, and Tyreek Hills of the league, built upon verticality, strength, and world-class speed lurk in the shadows from week to week. It’s a position of constant need for organizations across the league, but Horn frankly doesn’t care where he ends up, or what round he goes in. All he knows is it’s an opportunity to play football, and he won’t be one to pass it up.

“People don’t realize it’s a draft, you still have to go play football after this,” Horn stated. “It doesn’t matter if I’m [taken in the] first round, seventh round, undrafted… in a couple years we’ll all see [who the better prospect is].”

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