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Grading the Panthers first-round pick of Jaycee Horn


"Horn's pro day workout won over a lot of teams that already appreciated the tenacity he showed on film. The son of former NFL receiver Joe Horn is exactly the sort of corner the Panthers needed to take on teams' outside receivers: tall, strong and physical. I like Patrick Surtain as the top corner in the class, but this is still a really good pick for a team looking to create a dominant defense to help new quarterback Sam Darnold rejuvenate his career in Carolina Blue."

Grade: A-

"Boasting rare agility, straight-line speed and the competitiveness that helped his father, Joe, become a Pro Bowl wideout, Horn is the best cover corner in the 2021 draft. The Panthers already have one of the better young corners in the conference in Donte Jackson, and the highly confident Horn is an ideal running mate. It doesn't hurt that new general manager Scott Fitterer went with the relatively local product as well, helping to generate that much more excitement from the fan base."

Grade: B+

"I liked Patrick Surtain more, but I get it. Horn is a feisty corner who will definitely be a good cover player."

Grade: B

"Another pick that might feel like a surprise, but it makes plenty of sense. The Panthers desperately need a corner like Horn, with his combination of size, length, athleticism and competitiveness. He and Alabama's Patrick Surtain II were closely graded, so either makes sense here. The big surprise is the the Panthers passed on Justin Fields, who would have been a great fit in Joe Brady's offense."

Grade: B

"A mild upset here, as Horn is the first defensive player off the board — and the Panthers resisted the QB option here, too. Horn going over Patrick Surtain II is a long play; in time, the son of Joe Horn could be a Stephon Gilmore-caliber defender as a press-man corner. Defensive coordinator Phil Snow loves long, athletic corners, and he gets one here."

Grade: B

"Horn is super athletic and was ranked by many people as the first or second cornerback in this class. Him and Alabama's Patrick Surtain are the top CB prospects in 2021.

Horn can excel man-to-man and has enough strength to win battles for 50-50 balls down the field. Quarterbacks completed just 33 percent of their passes when targeting Horn last season, per Pro Football Focus, which was the lowest in the SEC.

He gives Carolina's secondary a much-needed physical presence."

Grade: B

"The Panthers, with Sewell off the board, were pushed into their glaring defensive need for a cornerback to help shore up the pass defense behind Brian Burns and next to Jeremy Chinn. But with safe, "sure thing" Patrick Surtain II on the board, they opted to look elsewhere in the SEC, down the road to Columbia for a different son of a former NFL player, in this case Joe Horn. Jaycee is a natural big playmaker who rose up boards late because of his comparable size, but Surtain had the ultimate pedigree and a little better shutdown potential."

Grade: B-

"Physically, Horn fits the prototype for an NFL corner. He's 6-foot-1, 205 pounds and ran a 4.4. He started 29 games in three seasons and played with a feisty, competitive demeanor. That got him into trouble at times as Horn was called for 10 penalties in 30 games. He got his hands on a lot of passes (25 passes defended) but had just two interceptions. Horn is an aggressive press-man corner with upside, but Panthers coaches will have to teach him to be more disciplined and less grabby.

Given the Panthers' uncertainty at quarterback, this pick is a bit of a head-scratcher. Carolina took a swing on Sam Darnold, but he's far from a sure thing. Why not take a shot on Justin Fields here and increase your chances of finding a franchise quarterback? What's wrong with a little competition — especially given that Darnold is currently only under contract through 2021? Horn might turn out to be a fine player, but Fields would have offered huge upside."

Grade: C-

View photos of cornerback Jaycee Horn during his career with the Gamecocks.

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