One of the deeper corner classes in recent memory, there is a true alpha here followed by plenty of desirable options.
Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech
Farley has the ideal blend of athleticism (4.3 40) and size (6’2″) needed to excel at the next level. Twice highlighted on Bruce Feldman’s famous Freaks List in just 2 collegiate seasons, Farley can downright boogey.
There is not one rep on tape where he lost his man. He was caught out of position a few times, but consistently used his burst to make up ground in what seemed like no time at all.
Caught out here, Farley widened his base (watch the left foot shoot out towards the sideline) and began to swing his hips expecting the receiver to stay straight. This left him a step behind as #5 cut to the middle of the field, but Farley used his freakish agility to close the gap in what felt like a nano-second to break up the pass.
Lots of CBs are twitched up and freaky fast, though. What ensures Farley’s place as CB1 is the size he pairs with it. On display in a 2019 match-up with ND and Chase Claypool, a rep during crunch-time stuck out.
This is a 1 possession game, VT vying for the upset, Claypool already over 100 yards, and Farley sticks him, nay, bodies him with NO safety help. This is the same Claypool who routinely used his big body to bully CBs in the NFL. And Farley pinned him to the sideline without an inch to breath. A blue-chip prospect, we would be discussing Farley in the top 5 if he had suited up this season.
Patrick Surtain Jr, Alabama
Son of the Dolphins legend, Surtain Jr has prototypical NFL length. His 6’2″ frame gives way to long arms and oily hips, traits that have had him in the spotlight since he was the top CB recruit in the 2018 class. Surtain exceeded those lofty expectations with a 68.7 passer rating against during his 3 years as a starter in Tuscaloosa and was PFF’s highest graded CB in 2020.
The reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year wins with supreme technique, instincts, and physicality, giving him a very high floor.
He doesn’t even let George Pickens start his route here. Fools him with the fake jam and then rides him toward the boundary. This play never had a chance.
Surtain is also not afraid to get his nose dirty and wrap-up.
Not being a premier athlete, Surtain needs to assert himself with his size and will likely be able to do so the next level. He fits very well for teams who run mostly cover 3 and can be useful from day 1.
Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
The second installment of former All-Pro’s Sons, Jaycee plays with the same edge as his father Joe just from the opposite side of the ball. Horn is one of the more tantalizing prospects in this class: having the mindset and physical traits necessary to be a true shutdown, press corner in the NFL with a tendency to become over-aggressive and sloppy at times.
Regardless, his top-end reps are something else. South Carolina’s game against Auburn showcased what Horn is capable of. He bullied Seth Williams all afternoon.
One of my favorite reps thus far, Williams (top of the screen) tries to get past Horn on the outside and gets dominated. He even wound up on the ground by the end of the play. Horn completely took over this game for SC, securing 2 INTs, tipping another ball that was picked, and defending 4 passes en route to the upset victory. The learning curve may be steep and he must clean up his technique some, but he legitimately has potential to be one of the best corners in the league.
Asante Samuel Jr, Florida State
The third and final offspring on this list (3 sons of All-Pros being in Top 5 corners is really insane from a probability standpoint), Samuel represents a significant drop-off from the top 3. He plays the game with an edge and possesses the athleticism to stick with most WRs, but is undersized (5’10”, 185 lbs) compared to the top tier.
This has not been an issue yet for Samuel, though. In 256 coverage snaps this past season, he was targeted 32 times, allowed 1 TD, and came away with 3 INTs. Despite his size, Samuel plays the game with shocking physicality. Check him out coming after AJ Dillon in a game from 2019.
Down 60 lbs and without a care in the world. Samuel is fearless, instinctive, and can do anything a defensive coach asks of him showing high end reps in the slot, zone, and press-man. Do not overlook him.
Tay Gowan, UCF
A real sleeper in this class, Gowan has taken a winding road to get to this point. The former 2 Star recruit was barely sniffing D-1 offers before signing with Miami (OH) and then later Butler Community College (GA) after not being able to secure a role with the Redhawks.
He wound up at UCF after his JUCO stint and manhandled the competition. In his only season as a starter (2019), Gowan allowed 20 catches and 274 yards on 50 targets, good for a 54.9 passer rating. That is exceptional in the pass-happy AAC. Many of his coverage snaps were in press-man too, as he has ideal length (6’2″) to jam WRs at the line and speed (likely 4.3 guy) to stick with them down the field. Gowan is one of the most projectable CBs in this class.
Tyson Campbell, Georgia
Aaron Robinson, UCF
Shakur Brown, Michigan State