It’s a new season and which teams are ready to roll with their rookies? The Carolina Panthers should roll with their rookie Jaycee Horn!
Each new year, a new class of rookies enters the NFL. Some players get drafted higher than others, and some have to find their way as Undrafted Free Agents (UDFAs). No matter how their careers started, they all have the same goal — to be stars at the highest level. When you get drafted early (like Jaycee Horn), there is pressure to produce immediately and a team will look to roll with the rookie right away.
The Carolina Panthers selected Jaycee Horn in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft with the eighth overall pick. Horn, who some considered the best cornerback in this class, was a three-year starter for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks. In 30 games played, he made 29 starts. Horn recorded 101 tackles, 69 solo tackles, 7 TFLs, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, and 23 pass breakups (PBUs).
It was surprising to see the Panthers select a CB so early with this year’s draft class projected to be deep at the position. Most thought that the Panthers had a bigger need at the quarterback position. (We later saw them trade for Sam Darnold.) Nevertheless, Carolina was able to get their pick of the litter. By drafting Jaycee Horn so early, the Panthers appear to be ready to roll with him as a starter. With the draft capital they invested in him, they have to be.
A New Beginning
The Panthers missed on numerous cornerbacks over the past few years and haven’t found success solidifying the position. Carolina has fourth-year player Donte Jackson at one cornerback spot, but they haven’t been able to find the other cornerback stud. Until now. Horn has the experience as a starter versus elite competition (SEC) and the production to go with it. The Panthers will roll with Horn, relying heavily on him to become that lockdown corner they desperately need.
Opposing offenses won’t be deterred from testing Horn early and often, despite his talent. And that will continue until he can prove himself. Horn is going to have to be ready from day one, keep that dawg mentality in his game, and have a short memory. He’ll have a lot of help from the linebackers and safeties, so he won’t be alone on an island.
The Fantasy Life
Now that we’ve covered everything on Horn in real-life football, let’s look ahead to the impact he will have on your IDP fantasy teams. We know that opposing quarterbacks will test the rookie cornerbacks often, especially if they cannot hold their own. As for Horn, expect a ton of targets to come at him early in the season.
This is actually the best time to play him, as long as he starts, and he should. Watch his play closely — a better performance equals less targets. By mid-season, you will have a great sample of his play and what you will need to do with him going forward.
Looking ahead, Horn’s fantasy impact changes. The better he continues to play, the less value he’ll have for your fantasy teams. If that happens, you’ll only want him in the deep roster, position-specific leagues. Cornerback is the IDP fantasy position to preferably roster players who play badly.
In deep-roster, position-specific leagues, I see Horn being a solid fantasy option. Especially as a rookie and into year two. The Panthers will roll with the rookie and so should you!