The New York Jets have been fielding a secondary full of undrafted free agents and late round picks (Bless Austin, Arthur Maulet, Bryce Hall, Lamar Jackson). The 23rd pick in the Draft provides the Jets with a chance to fill a very important role.
Now, for Jets fans, nothing will ever compare to the illustrious career of Darrelle Revis. The future Hall-of-Famer had a career so good that even Patriots and Buccaneers fans try to hold on to a slice of that. But Revis has, and always will be remembered as, a New York Jet. And since him, nothing has been quite the same. But Jaycee Horn out of South Carolina can be a prospect the Jets defense has been missing for quite some time.
If you wanted to make the prototypical cornerback in Madden, they would look something like Horn. Measuring in at six foot one (6’1”) and 205 pounds, Horn is larger than the average cornerback (5’11”, 198lbs). He boast some long arms. His 40-time based on film review is something teams may be concerned about. At a projected 4.45+, Horn lays outside the range for ideal cornerback speed. The plus side is, he has the technique to back it up.
Stats and Awards
“True-Freshman SEC Starter”. In his first season, Horn started 10 out of 11 games for the Gamecocks. Being a starter in the SEC is no laughing matter- the conference breeds NFL players. The choice to South Carolina, one of the lesser teams in the conference, was of Horn’s own doing. He wasn’t a mediocre player who took the best offer he had available. With scholarships to NFL factories like Alabama, LSU, and Clemson, Horn chose South Carolina to blaze his own path. And he did just that.
He earned Freshman All-SEC honors, and carried that to starting all 12 games his sophomore season. In his final year as a junior before declaring for the Draft, Horn earned All-SEC Second Team honors.
This past season, before opting out of the remainder of the season, Horn allowed only 8 catches on 24 targets in 7 games for 116 yards. Simplified, that’s one catch a game, 3 targets a game, and 16 yards a catch.
Jaycee Horn is the son of former Saints wide receiver Joe Horn. The League is in his blood. But the biggest positive about Horn is his physicality and aggressive mentality. For a team like the Jets, they haven’t had an aggressive culture of domination in years, especially from the cornerback position.
With long arms, Horn embraces and thrives in press coverage rolls. Seldom do the wide receivers he faces get off without contact. He will get his hands on the receiver and stay with the man. In any defense, across any level, that is the key to disrupting pass concepts and throwing quarterbacks off their rhythm. The quarterback-wide receiver connection is about timing. All it takes is someone willing to get up and get in the way legally to throw and offense out of sync. Look to current AFC East winners in the Buffalo Bills. In an offense formulated around an efficient passing game, someone who can at least challenge the likes of Stefon Diggs can ruin the offense and force the quarterback to their second reads, all the way to the check down.
Wide receivers live off the space they are able to create. Horn doesn’t let that space exist. He has fast feet and a twitchy recovery. On film, if he over commits on a release he has the athletic ability to correct himself and drive on the route like he never got turned the wrong way in the first place. That same athleticism allows him to close on drags and whip routes which are nightmares for average corners to cover.
His physicality and long arms also mean Horn can get to the ball. More times than not he strives to make the extra effort to get to the ball, and isn’t satisfied with making a tackle on a catch. Horn wants the pass breakup, he wants the forced incompletion, and he’ll try to Peanut Punch the ball out until after the whistle blows. Horn is a straight up dog with a tenacious attitude that frankly, any NFL defense wants.
He can play anywhere on the field and play any style. He can roll into the slot and play ball with the short fast guys who like a free release. (Granted, both Brian Poole and Javelin Guidry have allowed a grand total of one touchdown given up from the slot). But more importantly, it means that the NFL offenses that like to move their #1 into the slot to get them open, can’t. Horn can follow anywhere. And as always, you can put him alone on the island and trust you wont have issues. He’s fundamentally sound. He can mirror and he can press. He can trail, and he can play over the top. What you need him to do, he can. Oh, and he can shed blocks to set the edges or make the tackles in the run game.
There are two primary concerns about Horn as an NFL prospect. First, as previously mentioned, his speed. There’s a little concern about his ability to stick with the faster receivers who can take the top off the defense. A solid Pro Day can put those concerns to ease. Second, there is such a thing as overly physical. Although it’s something to be corrected in coaching, Horn got away with a lot of extra grabbing in college. The NFL wide receivers can punish a handsy corner if they aren’t fundamentally sound, and the referee’s are more apt to looking for that defensive flag.
Horn would become an instant starter, likely being complimented by Brian Poole (Or Guidry is Poole isn’t resigned) in the slot, and Bryce Hall on the other sideline. He is without a doubt one of the missing pieces on the defense, and his production would immediately make people notice. For a team with such a weak, young secondary, Horn’s physical abilities and mentality make him an attractive prospect for the Jets defense. If he’s available at 23, Joe Douglas needs to pull the trigger to solidify a corner who can travel for years.