Note: The NFL Draft begins April 29 and the Green Bay Packers have the 29th pick in the first round. Between now and then, I’ll examine 29 players — one each day — the Packers could select with that pick.
Today, we look at Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley.
CALEB FARLEY, CB, VIRGINIA TECH
Farley was a high school quarterback who suffered a non-contact ACL injury on his first day of practice with the Hokies, then moved to defense as a redshirt freshman.
Farley was a natural at cornerback, starting 12 of 13 games in 2018 and amassing two interceptions, seven passes defensed and 36 tackles.
As a redshirt sophomore in 2019, Farley was named first-team all-ACC after posting four interceptions and 16 passes defended. He missed the final two games of the season, though, with back spasms.
Farley opted out of the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19 concerns. Farley then underwent a microdiscectomy on his back on March 23, which prevented him from working out at Virginia Tech’s pro day.
40-yard dash: 4.28
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Bench press: 23 reps of 225 pounds
Vertical jump: 37 1/2”
Broad jump: 10 6”
Arms: 33 3/8”
Hands: 8 3/4”
Farley’s back procedure was described as “minor.” Still, his draft stock is falling because of it, and there’s a chance he’ll still be on the board when the Packers pick at No. 29.
Farley has rare size, speed and athleticism for the cornerback position and knows how to use his length and strength to hassle receivers. Farley, who hoped to play wide receiver at Virginia Tech, also has above average ball skills for the cornerback position.
Farley has the strength to re-direct wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and the size to cover tight ends. His timing is outstanding and he’s a willing tackler.
Farley’s technique and fundamentals are so-so, which is understandable considering he’s played the position just two years. Farley must sharpen his zone coverage skills and his tackling.
For many teams, though, Farley’s back is the No. 1 issue — and will eventually determine where he’s selected.
Green Bay brought Kevin King back, ensuring that its top five players in the secondary will return in 2020. King signed a one-year deal, though, and isn’t the long-term answer.
Green Bay has had all sorts of trouble finding defensive backs early in the draft in recent years.
Since 2014, the Packers have used first round picks on Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Damarious Randall, and second rounders on Quinten Rollins, Josh Jones and Josh Jackson. All five failed to live up to expectations.
With King set to leave after 2021 and nickel back Chandon Sullivan a picture of mediocrity, the Packers will likely look for a corner early. A player like Farley could eventually become a perfect tag-team partner for Jaire Alexander.
THEY SAID IT
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay on Farley: “With Farley, I think if you told me you had to cover one No. 1 receiver in the league for one play, I would send Farley out there. Because I think he’s the most smooth and athletic of the group. He has an unbelievable knack, whether it’s reading the receiver’s route or his eyes in trail, knowing when to turn his head and go attack the football, like a wide receiver. And that’s what he does best.
“And I’m so impressed watching his tape with his ability to adjust. But, he also has the back injury now and so I think he could fall a little bit because teams are concerned about the durability and how long it’s going to take for him to recover.”
Farley said: “But best believe, any team that takes a corner over me, you know, I’m a dog. That’s going to tick me off. It’s going to tick me off. I’m gonna try to do them like Randy Moss did them, you know, when they let him fall. I’m gonna try to high step all the way to the end zone with the ball of my hands and point at my back when I get in there. That’s the type of dude I am. I’ll be suited up this fall and I can’t wait.”
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper on Farley: “He’s got the size, he’s a former wide receiver. He played really well in 2019 as a cover corner, ball-skill down the field, locating the ball down the field. He’s good in front, he’s good behind. What he doesn’t do is tackle well enough.”