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NFL Network’s Cynthia Frelund Projects Colts to Select South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn in NFL Mock Draft

Auburn v South Carolina Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

According to NFL Network Analytics Expert Cynthia Frelund, the Indianapolis Colts are projected to select South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn with the 21st overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft:

21. Indianapolis Colts

Jaycee Horn

South Carolina · CB · Junior

PFF shows that Horn allowed just eight catches on 24 targets for 116 yards in seven games in 2020.

The 6’1”, 200 pound junior cornerback recorded 16 tackles (10 solo), a tackle for loss, 2 interceptions, and 6 passes defensed during 7 starts in 2020—before opting out to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft after the dismissal of ex-Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp.

Horn earned All-SEC 2nd-Team honors despite his shortened junior season.

He started all 12 games at cornerback as a sophomore in 2019 and 10 of South Carolina’s 11 games just a season prior as a true freshman in 2018—earning Freshman All-SEC honors.

Of course, Horn is the son of former longtime New Orleans Saints’ Pro Bowl wideout Joe Horn, meaning he already has great football bloodlines.

Here’s NFL Network Daniel Jeremiah’s scouting report on Horn, who he currently has ranked as the 23rd best prospect overall:

Rank

23. Jaycee Horn

South Carolina · CB · Junior

Horn is a big, physical cornerback with plenty of speed and instincts. He’s physical with his hands to consistently re-route in press coverage. He is fluid when he opens up and can run/stay in phase with vertical routes. His short-area quickness is good for a big cornerback. However, he has some bad habits to break in off coverage. He catches and grabs too much. He will draw a lot of flags at the next level if that doesn’t get cleaned up. He does do a good job of locating and playing the ball downfield. He has outstanding hands to finish with the ball. He is more than willing in run support (see: huge hit versus Auburn). Overall, Horn needs to play with more confidence from off coverage (to avoid panicking and grabbing), but he has the skills to excel right away as a press-man cornerback.

ESPN’s Todd McShay has him just slightly lower as the 27th best prospect overall:

27. Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina*

HT: 6-1 | WT: 205

Grade: 90 | Previous rank: NR

The son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn, Jaycee is long and instinctive. And he tends to play his best in big games. Horn opted out in the middle of the 2020 season but not before hauling in a pair of interceptions and breaking up six more passes over the course of seven games.

Here’s the other ‘draft buzz’ on Horn:

Regarding the Colts’ current prototype at cornerback, Horn checks all of the boxes: long, athletic, physical, instinctive with ball skills, and who’s a willing tackler against the opposing ball carrier.

He has the requisite toughness and the ‘dawg mentality’ that the Colts really like in their defensive players individually and to play collectively as a cohesive unit.

At this point, it seems as though he’s more adept at press-man than pure zone coverage, but he still has the natural talent and athletic ability to play either well at the next level.

While his being ‘unnecessarily physical and grabby’ draws some recent flashbacks to Colts’ young cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, who was plagued during an up-and-down second-year season because of similarly acquired bad habits, Horn is a bit more polished of a cornerback prospect coming out of college.

Specifically, Horn has been battle-tested as a three-year starter for the Gamecocks against elite competition in the SEC dating back to his freshman season (whereas Ya-Sin was a one-year starter at Temple in the American Athletic Conference)—which really says something because Ya-Sin still started 13 games for the Colts as a green rookie in 2019.

The Colts have both an immediate and long-term need at starting outside cornerback, as veteran starters Xavier Rhodes (30) and T.J. Carrie (30) are both free agents and are starting to get ‘a little long in the tooth’ even if either is eventually re-signed by Indianapolis.

Ya-Sin endured a sometimes rocky second pro season, but he should remain in the mix for a starting job—as should fellow soon-to-be 3rd-year cornerback Marvell Tell, who’s returning for the Colts after having opted out of the 2020 campaign because of COVID-19 concerns.

While left tackle and edge remain arguably greater offseason needs for the Colts, it wouldn’t be shocking if Indianapolis believed Horn was the ‘best player available’ and selected him regardless because he’s really talented and still very much fills a major team need overall.

Horn should be a Day 1 selection and no later than an early Day 2 pick during draft week.

He’s one of the best defensive prospects in this year’s NFL Draft Class and should be under strong consideration by the Colts because he fits exactly the type of cornerback prospect the team typically covets—as well as fills a significant defensive hole.