The Future: 2021 NFL Draft Prospects Caleb Farley
Caleb Farley is my second ranked cornerback behind Patrick Surtain Jr. Farley was a high school quarterback who came into Virginia Tech as an athlete and started his college career as a wide receiver. He was injured as a freshman and then as a redshirt freshman he converted to the defensive side of the ball as a corner. He is a big, long, freakish athlete who has elite tope end speed. There are a few parts of his game that are under developed due to him only playing defense for the past two years which is why I have him ranked second behind Surtain, on top of the fact that he also opted out this season while Surtain was able to play and show why he is my top ranked corner. Below I will discuss Farley's man coverage, his ball skills, his line of scrimmage (LOS) skill, how well he can play in run support and lastly his open field tackling.
Man Coverage- Farley is very good/borderline elite in man coverage. His combination of size, length, and speed allow him to mirror anybody on the field. When going against deep routes he has elite make up speed to get back into phase if he loses at the LOS. In press he is very patient to wait for receivers to commit to their route before mirroring. He has solid hip fluidity to turn and run with receivers. He has the short area quickness to stay with shifty receivers and is not grabby throughout the entire route. One are he can improve is with his eye discipline. There are times where he can be beat with double moves because of how quickly he gets his eyes to the quarterback to try to find the ball which can result in him losing his man.
Ball Skills- His ball skills are elite. Having been a former wide receiver he knows how to track the ball and complete interceptions. He has a natural ability to turn and find the ball to make a play on it. In all areas of the field he knows how to play the ball without interfering with the receiver. On deep throws when he isn't able to get his head around to make a play on the ball he is able to read receivers eyes and body language to try to break up the pass. Lastly if you simply look at his production, it matches what you see with the eye test, with 6 interceptions and 19 passes defended in 23 career games.
LOS Skills- He has elite length and physicality to jam consistently at the LOS. He does a very good job of being physical at the LOS as well as at the beginning of the route to be able to throw off the timing of the route as well as get the receiver off of his line. His hands are strong and precise at the LOS but he doesn't use them enough. He is more of a press and run with corner instead of a press jam corner and I would like to see him use his hands more often at the next level.
Run Support- This is the area of his game that needs the most work. He is very inconsistent. He does a good job of getting off blocks by wide receivers but his tackling is the inconsistent part. There are plays where he is technically sound with closing the space between him and the ball carrier and breaking down, dropping his pad level, and bringing the ball carrier to the ground. On the other hand he missed about 20% of his tackles which is a really high number of missed tackles. I think this is due to the fact that he is relatively new to the position and defense in general so he will need to improve upon this area of this game to become a complete cornerback.
Open Field Tackling- A lot of the same from run support applies here. He is simply just inconsistent with his ability to bring the ball carrier to the ground. In the open field though he has the athletic ability and size to be in the right position and with more experience on the defensive side of the ball he should improve in both of these areas.
One last area I want to touch on with his play is in zone coverage. Since man coverage is much more important than zone this isn't a major area of concern as I believe it is easier to teach zone coverage rather than man coverage. In zone he doesn't quite have the feel for defending an area of the field. He can miss receivers coming into his zone from time to time and again I think this is due to his lack of experience at the position and it will be easy to get Farley to learn how to play zone better as long as he is willing to and wants to learn. Farley will be a first round pick and potentially be a top 10 pick. His athletic profile alone is something that pops out both on film and on paper as he is going to run a 4.3-4.4 40 yard dash. He has arguably the highest ceiling of any corner in this class and can develop into an elite corner in the NFL.