Patriots Draft: Jaycee Horn could be ideal Stephon Gilmore replacement

BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA - OCTOBER 24: Jaycee Horn #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA - OCTOBER 24: Jaycee Horn #1 of the South Carolina Gamecocks (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots’ draft plans have shifted in a pretty significant way over the last few weeks, as the re-signing of Cam Newton and additions at wide receiver mean it’s less likely New England will draft an offensive player high.

With Stephon Gilmore’s trade status still up in the air, the Patriots could replace one South Carolina Gamecock corner with another in Jaycee Horn.

Horn is the son of former New Orleans Saints legend Joe Horn, and his NFL bloodlines have helped make him the consensus No. 3 cornerback in this draft behind Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II and Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley.

Horn was a solid starter for two seasons, but SEC quarterbacks were reluctant to challenge him in seven games last season, and that has helped him become the type of physical man coverage corner that Belichick dreams about.

The Patriots will only get one shot to draft Horn, as several cornerback needy teams picking after New England will make sure that they don’t get a second chance at him barring a massive trade.

If the Pats want to unload Gilmore’s contract, Horn looks like the most natural replacement for him on the field given his skillset.

Jaycee Horn could start for a decade with the New England Patriots.

Irrespective of position, Horn’s performance against potential Day 2 pick Seth Williams and Auburn this season might be the single most dominant game from any prospect in 2020. Horn was targeted eight times, allowing just two catches while breaking up five others and intercepting two balls.

Horn has shot up ahead of secondary teammate Israel Mukuamu on most draft boards, and it’s easy to see why. Horn decimates receivers at the line of scrimmage, with his ability to shut them down at the line, change direction quickly, and masterfully contest passes in the air helping him become arguably the best press-man corner in this draft.

Horn’s biggest issues come when he has to tackle, as his effort and consistency in those two spots seemed to be his main issue. However, Horn’s play on the outside looks almost textbook, and that should help him start on the outside right away.

Horn doesn’t have to be Gilmore right away. It’s unfair to expect him to be that dominant that early in his career.

Having said that, his ability far exceeds what most players his age in that conference possess, and Belichick can scratch his SEC itch once again by making Horn the foundation of the secondary for a decade.

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