CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech** (6’2”, 207)
Played quarterback in high school. Burst onto the scene with 36 tackles, two picks, and seven breakups as a freshman, then followed that up with a dominant sophomore season, recording 20 tackles, breaking up twelve throws, and picking off four balls, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Opted out this past season before declaring for the draft.
Was already a lockdown cornerback by his sophomore season. Has ideal size for the corner position. Played on the left side of the defense and was asked to play various different techniques, including shuffle, press-man, off-man, and zone. Would stay on that side even if no receiver was split out wide, aligning tighter to the formation in a shuffle alignment. Footwork is pretty good when matching releases from press coverage, and flashes the ability to use his length to jam. Flexible, very solid athlete, especially for a bigger cornerback. Fast enough to carry opponents down the field in man coverage. Has pretty quick reaction times and transitions from backpedaling to driving on a spot well. Sniffs out screens and attacks the spot. Has the speed and size to really squeeze receivers running crosses over the middle of the field. Good technique to slap out the ball when in-phase, and length allows him to get his hands on a lot of passes. Has soft hands to make the interception when in position. Willing to come up in run support and looks like a pretty sound hit-and-wrap tackler.
Played exclusively on the left side during the games reviewed, so footwork from the opposite side couldn’t be evaluated. As a bigger cornerback, it would be nice to see him get more physical with receivers, using his length to jam them at the line more consistently and to pin them to the sidelines when working against outside releases on the short side of the field. Balance on his backpedal is a little bit off. Can commit to the first break too strongly, making himself susceptible to double moves. Could do a better job of getting his head around to locate when covering down the sidelines. Would like to see him hold up better against stalk blockers given his size, digging in to absorb contact and using technique to shed. Underwent minor back surgery during the pre-draft process.
Checks all of the boxes from a physical standpoint and enjoyed a lot of success in a defense which asked him to play various different techniques, showing solid ball skills when he was able to locate the football. Still has a few things to clean up in terms of his technique, and it would be nice to see him use his size/length more at the line and down the sidelines, but projects as a possible number-one cornerback who can match up against big receivers, so he will likely come off the board somewhere in the first round.