Caleb Farley is projected to currently be the third cornerback taken off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft in most scenarios. Injuries, specifically back concerns, have most likely ended his chances of going top 10. We’ll have to see where Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn wind up, but I don’t see either of them sliding past the top 15. The LA Chargers notably need a cornerback.
In many mock drafts, a common scenario for the Chargers is one where both Surtain and Horn are gone. This leaves players like Micah Parsons, Caleb Farley, Christian Darrisaw, and Teven Jenkins on the board for when the Chargers are up to pick at 13. Considering the need at cornerback, Farley isn’t too improbable of a selection at that point.
Given his injury history, the Chargers should stay away from Farley in the first round at all costs. While he does have athletic traits that few prospects possess, the risk with his back injury, in particular, is difficult to gauge. Ian Rapaport and Tom Pelissero filed a damning report on the status of Farley’s health:
— Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) April 27, 2021
Some fans will refer to Farley’s ACL injury predominantly in discussions, but that may be the least of his problems. His entire back injury history has to be considered a massive red flag. He hasn’t even turned 23 and has already dealt with multiple disc herniations. Add Sciatica into the mix and you’re talking about a bit of a ticking time bomb.
Farley has back problems that most people don’t suffer from until their 40s. Another concerning part of the report is the partial lack of feeling that he has in his feet from the Pelissero/Rapaport report. His nerves haven’t fully recovered.
The LA Chargers will be drafting a player on Thursday who is expected to be a mainstay for the franchise in the next 8-10 years.
Out of all the possible players that might be available at 13, I have the least confidence in Farley playing that long of a career. By the time he (presumably) is ready to play football in September, he won’t have played a snap in 22 months.
The upside of Farley is undeniable. He has a lot of potential as a lockdown corner with 4.3 speed. If he stays healthy, he’s one of the draft’s best players. That being said, it’s a big if. Perhaps if we were talking about just one ACL tear or one meniscus injury, I’d feel differently. After all, Hunter Henry tore his ACL in May of 2018 and was able to come back for a playoff game in just under eight months.
Back injuries are more complicated than knee injuries. Recent estimates put back surgery success around 50%, failing in 20-40% of cases. Knee replacement surgery meanwhile sits around an 85-90% success rate.
Even if Farley’s most recent back procedures are successful, it’s likely he could still have more procedures needed in the future. Even after a successful spinal fusion surgery, golfer Tiger Woods still had to have a microdiscectomy in January of this year. Woods also plays golf whereas Farley plays a physical, contact sport.
The safe bet at 13 is clearly Christian Darrisaw as I see it, but there are plenty of other players the LA Chargers can take if Surtain and Horn are gone before they pick. Cornerback can be addressed well enough in round two with players like Asante Samuel Jr. and Ifeatu Melifonwu available.
Los Angeles should avoid Farley in round one based on his injury history and their own previous injury struggles.