Cornerback is the position that many assume that the Dallas Cowboys will take in the first-round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Perhaps only a case where Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or Oregon offensive lineman falls to 10 would change those plans.

Patrick Surtain II out of Alabama has been the very popular pick for the Cowboys over the last few months. Surtain II comes from an elite college program, possesses ideal size for the position, and has started for Nick Saban since his freshman season. He also played opposite of Cowboys corner Trevon Diggs, so there is that going for him too.

It almost makes too much sense. Draft a blue-chip Alabama defender and pair him with Diggs in the secondary. That would go a long way in rebuilding and improving the defensive side of the ball.

All of that is true. If the draft was today, I would bet Surtain II would be the pick, if he isn’t drafted before the Cowboys come on the clock. That said, Dallas does have a real decision to make next week.


Dallas Cowboys
Oct 12, 2019; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver George Pickens (1) is tackled by South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Jaycee Horn (1) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Surtain II is not alone at the top of the cornerback rankings. Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley had a compelling argument as the best corner in the class, but a second back procedure all but laid that to rest.

South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn, meanwhile, is right there with Surtain II. The son of former Saints wide receiver Joe Horn emerged as one of the best defensive backs in college football last season. Horn plays with an aggressive and physical style of play that made life difficult for SEC wide receivers in 2020.

Standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing in at 205 pounds with 33-inch arm, Horn has prototypical size to play cornerback in the NFL. His 4.39 40-yard dash and 42-inch vertical don’t hurt, either. Not only that, Horn uses his frame to his advantage, giving wideouts no inch of space. Horn is seemingly always in the receiver’s grill.

Horn excels while playing press-man, but he also had experience playing in zone schemes under former South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp. The former Gamecocks corner is a versatile defensive back that has the talent and ability to flourish in whatever scheme the NFL asks him to play.


Dallas Cowboys Jaycee Horn
Oct 12, 2019; Athens, GA, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Israel Mukuamu (24) reacts with defensive back Jaycee Horn (1) after intercepting a pass against the Georgia Bulldogs during the first overtime at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

One of the best things about Horn’s game is the swagger that he plays with. Jaycee Horn plays with a ton of confidence and isn’t afraid to tell the opposition how good he is. He doesn’t back down from anybody and appears to be willing to challenge anybody that he lines up against.

Horn’s aggressive style of play and swagger makes him a headache for the other team. Some are worried how Horn’s play will translate to the pass-interference happy NFL, but one scout that was interview by Bruce Feldman in a piece for The Athletic thinks Horn is worth the risk.

Scout No. 2: He’s a badass. He’s got great quickness. He loves to get physical. He’ll get too handsy, but I love how competitive he is. He’s the most talented corner in this class.

Additionally, Horn’s resume stacks up extremely well against any other corner that has been in the draft in recent years:


Jaycee Horn
Nov 9, 2019; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Jaycee Horn (1) breaks up a pass to Appalachian State Mountaineers wide receiver Thomas Hennigan (5) during the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Furthermore, Jaycee Horn has earned the respect from his peers. Players that Horn defended in college and one of the top corners in the NFL had glowing reviews for the South Carolina product.

Florida tight end Kyle Pitts said in a pre-draft interview with the Dallas Cowboys that Horn was the toughest player that he faced during the 2020 season. That is high praise coming from a presumptive top-10 draft pick and one of the best players in all of college football last year.

Pitts isn’t alone in talking about Horn. Los Angeles Rams corner Jalen Ramsey recently gave advice to the future first-round draft selection. Horn has trained with Ramsey during the pre-draft process.

There is a lot to like about Jaycee Horn: an incredible track-record defending some of the best wideouts in the SEC. The swagger and confidence needed to succeed at one of the most difficult positions in the sport. Endorsements and advice from two high-level athletes.

Overall, Jaycee Horn has an extremely compelling case to be the Dallas Cowboys draft pick a week from today at 10th overall. The Cowboys are looking to improve the defense in a big way. Horn would inject much-needed swagger to a defense lacking it to go along with strong play in the secondary.

Patrick Surtain II still might be the favorite to be the Cowboys pick, but Jaycee Horn has a very strong argument to be the selection.

Featured image via Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports