In recent weeks, former Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II and former South Carolina corner Jaycee Horn have separated themselves from former Virginia Tech corner Caleb Farley when it comes to the 2021 NFL Draft. However, that was not the case in Tuesday night’s ESPN NFL Mock Draft Nation.
With each ESPN NFL Nation reporter making the pick for the team they cover, Panthers beat writer David Newton selected Farley. With tight end Kyle Pitts and offensive tackle Penei Sewell also off the board and quarterbacks Justin Fields and Trey Lance still on, Newton also detailed what the team’s strategy could be in this situation.
“The Panthers like Farley as a much-needed press corner. If all the medicals check out with his back, they think he is the most talented corner in this draft. He’s a day-one starter. However, if the board falls this way, there’s a really good chance Carolina will be looking to trade back for a team looking for a quarterback. Maybe like Justin Fields or Trey Lance. The Panthers likely won’t take a quarterback here because they traded for Sam Darnold. They believe that he’s the guy that could lead them into the future, but they would like to add the extra draft picks and still could have their choice at Farley, Patrick Surtain or Jaycee Horn a few picks later. A press corner would have the greatest impact on this roster outside of tight end Kyle Pitts or offensive tackle Penei Sewell.”
In the leadup to the draft, much of the assessment of Farley has centered around his injury history, which has included two back surgeries including a recent microdiscectomy. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport shared that Farley is likely fall to late in the first round, with some sources believing that Farley could potentially even fall out of the first round altogether.
“It’s his second back injury, certainly giving some teams pause,” Rapoport said Tuesday. “Had he been completely healthy, I would have expected him to be the top cornerback in this draft. As of right now, he is likely gonna fall possibly to late first round. There are some people who believe that he’s going out of the first round.”
In the leadup to his entry into the NFL, Farley himself has addressed the matter of his injury history, telling NFL Network recently that he was not concerned about his draft position.
“You’ve gotta control what you can control,” said Farley last week on NFL Network’s Path to the Draft. “It has been a humbling experience, you know, but at the end of the day I’m still grateful to be here and in this position. There’s no point for me to go back and think in terms of, ‘I wish I would have taken care of this earlier, so I could have had pro day and do things like that’, so there’s no point in thinking like that.
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“I’ve just got to control what I can control, because at the end of the day I’m going to be suited up this August, and I’ll have the last say to anybody that doubts my health.”