Potential Patriots: Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley


Over the month of April 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 brings a relatively inexperienced high-end cornerback with some injury concerns.

Caleb Farley

CB Virginia Tech

6-2, 197

Resume: Farley was a star quarterback throughout his years at Maiden High School in Hickory, N.C. … Set a school record as a senior with 2,574 rushing yards and 58 total touchdowns (37 rushing, 21 passing), a number that ranks third in North Carolina history. … Farley’s 5,878 career rushing yards were also a school record, while his 124 total career touchdowns ranks in the top 10 in state history. … Farley committed to Virginia Tech as a quarterback, but was practicing with the wide receivers when he suffered a torn ACL in August of his freshman season. … Transitioned to cornerback the following the fall, and started 23 of the 24 games he played over the next two seasons at the new position. Had a truly elite season in 2019, earning All-ACC honors while recording four interceptions among his 16 passes defensed. According to The Athletic, Farley was also tops in FBS in passer rating allowed to opposing QBs in 2019 at just 17.2. … Opted out of the 2020 season and gave up his remaining eligibility to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.

Pre-Draft Buzz: Relatively raw at cornerback, having played just two college seasons at the position and no background on defense in high school. … Missed time to a back injury in 2019 that required surgery, then underwent a microdiscectomy this March that’s kept him from working out for teams and could delay his availability for training camp this summer. … Injury history –including recent back surgery – will be a major consideration in the pre-draft process for teams interested in Farley. … The Athletic cites a Virginia Tech assistant coach as describing Farley as a “humble homebody.” … The Ringer writes that Farley “has the skill set to start from Day 1, combining length, ball skills, agility, and speed.” … NFL.com’s draft profile compares Farley to former Dolphins, Raiders and Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith, a second-round pick back in 2009. … The Ringer compares him to 2020 Jaguars first-round cornerback C.J. Henderson. … NFL.com’s most recent mock draft slots Farley to the Packers at No. 21 overall, as the fourth cornerback to come off the board.

Why Farley fits the Patriots’ needs: As noted in looking at other cornerback prospects in this year’s NFL Draft, New England has plenty of future uncertainty at the position. As it stands today, Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson make up one of the best starting cornerback duos in the NFL. But neither is under contract beyond 2021, and some even question whether Gilmore might be traded before this season even arrives. So there could very well be a need for a high-end cornerback in Foxborough. Farley has elite size and playmaking potential, but obviously his limited experience and injury history are concerns. If Belichick is comfortable with the medicals, Farley has elite upside and still-untapped potential that the defensive-minded coach would probably love to mold in the back end of his defense in New England.

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