2021 NFL draft prospects: South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn

Eric Edholm
·5 min read
Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)
Eric Edholm's criteria for grading NFL draft prospects. (Albert Corona/Yahoo Sports)

South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn

6-foot-1, 205 pounds

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 6.10 — possible immediate starter

TL;DR scouting report: Long, physical press corner with elite traits and great bloodlines, but his tackling and recognition could improve

Games watched: Tennessee (2020), Auburn (2020), Florida (2020), Texas A&M (2020)

The skinny: A 4-star Rivals recruit (No. 189 nationally), the son of former NFL receiver Joe Horn racked up more than 30 scholarship offers — including from Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State — but chose the Gamecocks. Jaycee started 10 of his 11 games as a true freshman, making 45 tackles (four for losses), two sacks and eight pass breakups, earning him all-SEC freshman team honors and sharing SC’s Most Productive Defensive Player Award (with T.J. Brunson).

In 2019, Horn made 40 tackles (two for losses), one sack, nine pass breakups and two forced fumbles in 12 starts. He made 16 tackles (one for a loss), two interceptions and six pass breakups in seven starts in 2020, earning second-team all-conference. Following the firing of head coach Will Muschamp, Horn opted out for the remainder of the season and declared early for the 2021 NFL draft.

Upside: Terrific measurements for a press-man corner. Great length (33-inch arms, 77 1/4-inch wingspan) and quality weight distribution. Affects the catch point with length and jumping ability.

Landed on Yahoo Sports’ 2021 All-Juice Team following a pro-day showcase with a 42-inch vertical jump, 133-inch broad jump, 19 bench press reps and a 4.39-second 40-yard dash. Light feet for a man with his length. Good change-of-direction skills to mirror routes. Good makeup speed if receivers gain a step on him.

Often asked to follow the opponent’s best receiver, no matter their size or skill set. Covered everyone from slot receivers (Elijah Moore) to outside threats (Terrace Marshall Jr.) and even the best tight ends (had some great reps vs. Kyle Pitts). Camped in Seth Williams’ pocket for four quarters in a dominant performance vs. Auburn.

Lined up outside predominantly but was asked on occasion to move inside when needed — also played slot extensively as freshman. Coverage-diverse — played lot of physical press, but also press-bail, off-man, and zone (cover-2, cover-3 e.g.).

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 19: Jaycee Horn #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks goes after a pass against C.J. McWilliams #12 of the Florida Gators during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn has the look of a long press corner with high upside. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Pitched some shutouts in coverage — zero catches allowed vs. Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M in 2020 (and wasn’t targeted a single time vs. Aggies). Allowed only eight grabs (on 24 targets and 239 coverage snaps) all of 2020. Gets his hands on a lot of passes — 25 pass breakups in 30 career games (on 124 targets).

Keeps eyes in the backfield in zone and looks through the receiver. Stays patient and ready to pounce. Will come off his spot to make plays elsewhere. Strong blitzing potential — wasn’t asked to do it a lot but had a high conversion rate.

Great football DNA. Three-year starter who was mentally ready to face the SEC as an 18-year-old freshman. Feisty competitor — aggressive, strong and plays with an edge. Young — turns 22 years old in November — with breathtaking upside. Could end up the best corner in this entire class.

Downside: Very aggressive and handsy to a fault. Flagged eight times (three were declined/offsetting) in seven games in 2020. Total of 13 flags (nine accepted penalties) over his final two seasons (19 games). Keeps his hands on receivers almost throughout the route and could be begging for refs to throw flags — must trust his quick, natural feet better.

Questionable finishing skills on the ball. Only two career INTs, both coming in the same game. PFF credited him with four dropped INTs in his career. Hands (9 1/4 inches) are on the small side. Went his first 26 college games without a pick.

Wasn’t as effective in the red zone as you’d have hoped — allowed three TDs in 2020 in the red area. Can get crossed up on rub routes — will fail to recognize they’re coming and hesitate how to beat them.

Good battle with DeVonta Smith in 2019, but Smith beat him twice for first-down grabs. Route anticipation could use more refinement. Not as effective in zone — doesn’t yet have an ideal feel for gaining proper depth, especially in cover-2.

Tackling needs work — 24 career missed tackles, nearly one per game. There were times last season when he appeared to hold back as a tackler — was he trying not to get hurt? Lack of force on some tackle attempts raises some questions. Stuck on some blocks when run plays scooted right past him (see Ole Miss game, right before he opted out).

Didn’t run a 3-cone drill or short shuttle at his pro day.

Best-suited destination: Horn’s traits, instincts and youth are highly promising, and he profiles as an immediate starter with Pro Bowl upside. He ideally should work in a man-heavy scheme or perhaps as a cover-3 corner. He might not be asked to shadow WR1s right away, but he can play both sides of the line and in the slot.

Did you know: Jaycee’s father, Joe Horn, was a fifth-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1996, one of only two players who went from Itawamba Community College (Miss.) straight to the NFL. He played 12 years with three teams, made four Pro Bowls as a member of the New Orleans Saints and ranks in the top 100 all-time in receptions, receiving yards and receiving TDs.

And he’s spawned quite the football family. Jaycee has two other brothers who have played high-level football. Older brother, Joe Jr., spent time on the Baltimore Ravens’ roster in 2019 and played in the XFL in 2020. And younger brother, Jaycob, is a wide receiver who committed to Texas State.

Player comp: Kyle Fuller

Expected draft range: Top-20 pick