The Dallas Cowboys secondary was objectively awful last season. The unit was one of only seven in the NFL to allow opposing passers to have a passer rating of 100 or better. The unit also struggled to get takeaways, a consistent struggle for the Dallas defense over the past couple of years.
Needless to say, the team is in dire need of an upgrade in its secondary this offseason. This need is only exacerbated by the fact that the organization has several of its players in this unit who will be free agents this offseason including cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis.
It is perhaps self-evident then that the Dallas Cowboys should consider using their first-round pick, the tenth-overall pick in this years’ draft, to address this need. However, a more interesting question to pose should be whether the team should use this pick to select certain players who would meet this need.
While it is almost universally acknowledged that the top-two graded cornerbacks in this draft class, Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II and Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley, would be worthy of this selection a much more contentious debate has emerged over whether the third-rated cornerback, South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn, should also warrant consideration with this pick.
It is entirely possible that both Surtain and Farley will be off the board by the time Dallas goes up to make its selection and that would make the next best player who addresses this need Horn. There is also a belief among some fans and analysts that Horn, the son of former four-time Pro Bowl NFL wide receiver Joe Horn, might actually be a better prospect than one of the two defensive backs who are typically graded higher than him.
At the University of South Carolina, the 21-year old Horn played both in the slot and out wide, demonstrating his versatility while playing in the relatively tough SEC. The young defender managed to post a career-high two interceptions in 2020 despite only playing seven games. Throughout his career as a Gamecock, he accrued 101 total tackles, seven tackles for a loss, and 23 pass deflections.
The six-foot-one, 205-pound prospect, like both Farley and Surtain II, has above average size for a cornerback in the NFL. Horn is a physical defensive back who sometimes struggled against top-tier talent (watch his tape against Alabama), but he is a fierce competitor whose versatility could make him a better fit for defensive schemes that prioritize man-coverage.
The Dallas Cowboys are in dire need of an upgrade at the cornerback position. With limited resources this offseason to pursue top-tier free agents, the NFL Draft might be the teams’ best shot to address this need. If both Surtain II and Farley are gone the organization should seriously consider selecting Jaycee Horn, but it would be hard to argue that he is a better prospect at the moment than the two guys graded above him.