Kiper’s 2.0 NFL mock draft has Cardinals drafting CB Jaycee Horn
Mel Kiper Jr. hasn’t budged in thinking the Arizona Cardinals will select a cornerback with their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The ESPN analyst believes the depth in the class is there for Arizona to take one even if the first and second cornerback on his big board is gone.
Kiper, in his 2.0 mock that was revealed Thursday, has the Cardinals drafting South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn with their No. 16 pick because the expectation is that veteran Patrick Peterson departs in free agency.
Their defense should get a boost with the return of pass-rusher Chandler Jones from injury, but they need more talent in the secondary. Horn is not a ball hawk, but the instincts are there. He is around the ball more than the stat sheet shows — he had only two interceptions over three seasons at South Carolina. Offensive line and wide receiver are two other positions Arizona could look toward.
Kiper’s first mock draft released earlier in February had the Cardinals selecting Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley in the first round, and Farley remains the second cornerback off the board in the 2.0 iteration of the mock (Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II is Kiper’s top prospect at the position).
Farley goes a pick ahead of the Cardinals in the latest mock because Kiper proposes a trade, jumping the Denver Broncos to the 15th overall pick in a slot currently owned by the New England Patriots.
Farley and Horn are both big cornerbacks at more than 6-foot and 200 pounds, but they have progressed differently as prospects.
Farley has six interceptions and 17 passes defensed across his two collegiate seasons but opted out of a shortened 2020 year due to coronavirus concerns.
Horn showed playmaking ability in 2018 and 2019 with a combined three sacks, two forced fumbles, six tackles for loss, 85 tackles and 17 passes defensed. He recorded his first two interceptions in a seven-game 2020 campaign that also included six passes broken up.
It appears that the Cardinals will have options even if they boil a decision down to this one position of need.
Considering that a lot can happen in the draft before their pick is up, as Kiper’s latest mock shows, that’s a good thing.