NFL Draft 2021: Eagles’ favorite Jayce Horn has flaws, says Chris Simms

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Dave Zangaro
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Why Chris Simms has fears about Eagles’ 1st-round favorite originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

There seems to be a swell of support for the Eagles to take South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn with the No. 12 pick. 

Not only has Philadelphia become a popular landing spot for Horn in a bunch of mock drafts but the oddsmakers agree too. Points Bet now has Horn as the favorite (at +250) to be the Eagles’ pick in the first round.

Drafting Horn could end up being a great pick for a team with a desperate and long-standing need at the corner position.

But NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms has some serious doubts about Horn. Simms actually mocked Horn to the Eagles at 12 but that was a predictive pick because Simms doesn’t even list Horn among his top six corners in this class.

“I’m not the biggest Jaycee Horn fan individually,” Simms said on the Eagle Eye podcast this week. “Listen, I think he’s a good player. Do I sit here and think he’s a top 20 pick? For my money, no, I do not. I value a little bit more raw speed and the ability to play on an island maybe more than most. And Jaycee Horn is a big, physical guy, who, yes, can jam you at the line of scrimmage but I worry about his ability to stay with the faster, quick receivers in football. I do. I think that’s going to be an issue for him.

“Because of his size and just how big of a human being he is at that position, when you get into the Odell Beckham Jr.s of the world, the Tyreek Hills of the world, you’re a top 20 pick at corner, I expect you to cover them a lot man-to-man during a game. And that’s where I question Jaycee Horn. I do think he’s a holder, a pass interference penalty waiting to happen.”

Horn (6-1, 205) is considered by most to be the second-best corner in this draft class behind just Patrick Surtain II of Alabama. Horn played in the SEC, comes from a football family, had a good college career and performed well at his pro day.

But there are some concerns about him. Like Simms alluded to, he is aggressive, which is a positive and negative. Aggressiveness is good but penalties might be a problem at the next level. As NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote, “Flags will fly if he doesn’t learn to trust his feet and technique.” And even though Horn ran a 4.40, Simms claims that speed doesn't translate on tape.

It seems like most evaluators are willing to overlook the weaknesses in Horn’s game to think he’s going to be a very worthwhile first-round pick. Credit to Simms for trusting his own evaluation.

So why then does Simms think Horn to the Eagles makes sense?

“But having said all that and that’s the part I hate about the draft, is talking about young kids in a negative limelight like that,” Simms said. “But he does make sense for the defensive system you will run now with the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s where I do think it makes sense. And, hey, maybe I’m wrong about the guy. I know there’s a lot of people who really, really love him and like everything he brings to the table. So I hope he does prove me wrong if he’s the pick and everything like that.

“But with this new scheme, with (Jonathan) Gannon coming over as the defensive coordinator from the Colts, his history in Minnesota before that. I think they do value these size-type corners because they don’t ask their corners to play a ton of man to man.”

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