Over the next four weeks WEEI.com will offer up a total of 28 prospects who could be potential Patriots selections in the 2021 NFL Draft. While the top five projected overall prospects – QB Trevor Lawrence, QB Zach Wilson, WR Ja’Marr Chase, TE Kyle Pitts and OT Penei Sewell – won’t be included, all other players at all positions will be considered potential targets for Bill Belichick and his staff. Today, we look at the possibility of another elite South Carolina cornerback landing in New England.
CB South Carolina
Resume: Horn is the son of former Pro Bowl NFL wide receiver Joe Horn, who spent 12 seasons with the Chiefs, Saints and Falcons. … The Georgia native started as a true freshman for the Gamecocks, earning freshman All-SEC honors in 2018. … Horn only had two interceptions in three seasons at South Carolina, both against Auburn this past fall, but he did notch 23 passes defensed over the course of his 30-game collegiate career. He diversified his career contributions for the Gamecocks with three sacks, seven tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles. … A three-year starter, Horn opted out of the second half of the 2020 season to begin to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft, though he still earned All-SEC second-team honors. ... Horn has the obvious size, length, speed and physicality to be an elite NFL cornerback.
Pre-Draft Buzz: ProFootballNetwork.com declares that Horn is one of the “most physical, aggressive” corners in the class. … The two biggest concerns with Horn’s game heading to the next level are his penchant for getting a little too “handsy” in coverage, likely to draw NFL flags, and a need to be more consistent with his tackling. … The Ringer listed former Bengals first-round pick and current Washington corner William Jackson III as a worthy comp for Horn. … Horn impressed at his pro day with a 4.39 40 time as well as a 41.5-inch vertical with the Patriots in attendance. … NFLN’s Daniel Jeremiah mocked Horn to the Patriots at No. 15 overall earlier this spring.
Why Horn fits the Patriots’ needs: Horn has all the tools to be an NFL cornerback in any scheme, but certainly in the man coverages that Bill Belichick’s team employs regularly. New England has doubt at its talented cornerback depth chart. There are questions as to whether former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore – like Horn a South Carolina alum who started as a true freshman on the way to becoming a first-round pick of the Bills back in 2012 -- could be traded as he approaches his 31st birthday and final season under contract. J.C. Jackson, who ranked second in the NFL with nine interceptions a year ago, earned a second-round restricted free agent tender this spring and could hit the open market a year from now.
Adding a talented body like Horn would give Belichick a potential true No. 1 cornerback to build around moving forward.