2021 NFL Draft Profile: Caleb Farley

Caleb Farley NFL Draft

Caleb Farley 2021 NFL Draft Overview

Position: Cornerback
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 197lb
School: Virginia Tech Hokies

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2021 NFL Draft: Caleb Farley Player Profile

A high school quarterback recruited to play wide receiver at Virginia Tech, Caleb Farley’s route to become one of college football’s top cornerbacks is an unorthodox one. A high school career in Maiden, North Carolina saw Farley’s 58 total touchdowns in 2016 rank third in North Carolina football history. He also twice broke the record for single game touchdowns, doing so in back to back games.

A three-star recruit, the Hickory, North Carolina native made the short trip north to play for the Hokies. Unfortunately, Farley redshirted his freshman year after a non-contact ACL tear in 2017. Upon his return to the team in 2018, Farley made the decision to convert to cornerback, where his talent would soon become apparent.

Caleb Farley’s performances as a corner in the ACC belie that of someone relatively new to the position. In 2018, Farley established himself as the team’s top option at cornerback. In what was only his first year both as a cornerback and as a college football player, Farley was able to demonstrate the breadth of his athletic and playmaking ability. He recorded seven passes defensed in addition to two interceptions and a sack.

2019, however, was a breakout year for Caleb Farley. Despite playing only ten games for Hokies due to injury late in the season, Farley exhibited absolute dominance in the defensive backfield. If 2018 displayed the extent of his athletic talent, then the 2019 season showed explicitly demonstrated Farley’s elite skills as a coverage player. Farley doubled his previous haul, grabbing four interceptions on the year, including a pick-six against Georgia Tech. Farley ended what was his final season in college football with an ACC-high 16 passes defensed, interceptions included, and  tied for second for interceptions in the conference. A back issues unfortunately saw Farley miss the final two games of his college career.

In two years playing at Virginia Tech, omitting his redshirt year, Farley managed 43 tackles, six interceptions, 19 passes defensed and one interception returned for a touchdown. In 2020, Farley became one of the first high profile players to opt out of the upcoming season. Instead, Farley chose to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Strengths

  • Good motor and aggression;
  • Sharp footwork in open field situations;
  • Good closing speed;
  • Elite deep ball coverage; locates the ball well;
  • Confident in playing the ball; notable catching ability;
  • Strong and sharp in press man coverage;
  • Twitchy and instinctive in off-man coverage.

Weaknesses

  • Injury history is extremely concerning, especially his non-contact ACL in 2017;
  • Unlike other top prospects, Farley doesn’t have SEC pedigree;
  • Still fairly new to the position;
  • Tackling needs to improve at NFL level;
  • Zone coverage could be worked on, if relevant to scheme.

Teams With Need At Position: Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals

NFL Comparison: Marlon Humphrey

Bottom Line on Caleb Farley

There’s certainly a conversation that Caleb Farley could be the best coverage option in the 2021 class. Although less refined and complete than Patrick Surtain II, the consensus number one option, the combination of Farley’s physical and coverage abilities gives him a chance to be a superstar in the NFL. Dominant in man coverage, Farley is best suited to a team that will deploy him in an aggressive scheme that allows him to showcase his talents. He has the potential to be a complete playmaker at the pro level; his physical profile and attributes combined with an excellent nose for the football indicate that Farley could be a turnover machine.

His lack of experience against top-drawer talent, as well as the time he missed due to injury, is something to pay attention to. In that respect, although he has the talent to be a Day One starter in the NFL, Farley is perhaps best in a situation where he is not forced to start immediately.

Ultimately, the biggest knock on Farley is his poor health record. In his three-year tenure at Virginia Tech, Farley managed to complete only one full season. A back spasms issue ended his 2019 prematurely, whilst his ACL injury in 2017 is of notable concern. To this end, Farley is somewhat of a risk. With an astronomically high ceiling and relatively low floor, his draft position has fluctuated. He is expected to be an early to mid round pick, especially given that several of the teams from picks 7-16 have a need at the position. Whichever team takes somewhat of a chance on Farley early in the first round will get a NFL-level prospect with the potential to become a total lockdown corner at the absolute highest level.

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