Patrick Surtain has been the better cornerback… for years
The best cornerback in college football is neither Surtain nor Horn. It’s Derek Stingley Jr. out of LSU. Unfortunately, he’s not in this draft class. Other than him, Surtain has been the best cornerback in college football.
In the context of this conversation, he’s also been better than Horn. Surtain graded as the best cornerback in 2020 and was ranked second considering the last two seasons. Horn, by comparison, ranked 28th via PFF.
The numbers aren’t that hard. Surtain ranks in a different tier of cornerbacks with his efficient technician ability. Horn still struggles with efficiency and it’s a huge question mark as to whether he’ll fix those problems at the NFL level.
Prior to a limited 2020 sample size (Horn only played seven games), he had a defensive grade of 63 in 2019. Again, missed tackles and penalties cost him.
Fans and analysts alike argue that Horn has some higher upside, and I don’t necessarily disagree. If he becomes a more clean player, there’s a realistic path to him being the eventual CB1 in this class. However, a high floor should be valued to some degree as well. Surtain has a resume than Horn cannot match at the college level.
The talking point of him being helped by being at Alabama is nonsense too, in my opinion. Surtain was still Surtain when quarterbacks weren’t pressured:
Highest-graded CBs when there is no pressure on the opposing QB:
1. Patrick Surtain II – 87.8
2. Asante Samuel Jr. – 83.9 pic.twitter.com/XMLzAXnyGp
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 10, 2021
In general, Surtain has the higher floor and fewest question marks of any cornerback of this class. Horn is overaggressive while Farley and Newsome both have definite injury concerns. To state that he can’t play the Staley scheme or that Horn should be favored over him because of scheme is a bit of a reach.
This whole conversation may be made irrelevant by what happens in front of the Chargers in the draft, but don’t discount the possibility of Dallas taking Horn.
The blue chip, most polished defensive prospect in this class is Patrick Surtain II. Considering recent LA Chargers draft history, they could use more sure things instead of Tom Telesco draft misses.