Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley began the 2021 NFL draft cycle as one of the premier defensive prospects in the country and was considered by many draft analysts to be the top cornerback in the class, ahead of Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II and South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn.
But a late-March back procedure has put his first-round standing in question, as is usually the case when injury news like this takes place so close to the NFL Draft kicking off.
Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley, a projected first-round pick, will have a microdisectomy Tuesday with noted back-specialist Robert Watkins and will not work out at his pro day Friday, per his agent @DrewJRosenhaus.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 22, 2021
Prior to the injury, Farley was considered a player who could go as high as the top 10 picks. Now, there’s a chance he slides to Day 2, although the latest mock draft from NFL.com doesn’t think he’ll wait that long to hear his name called.
Instead, Adam Rank has Farley coming off the board to the New York Jets at No. 23 overall.
“I know, Jets. You’re all, “What gives?” Asking you to take a player who had to miss his pro day because he was having back surgery,” Rank wrote. “But don’t worry: Time is on your side. Farley will be back for the season, and you’ll end up stealing one of the best values in the draft.”
All reports have indicated that Farley will be back in time for training camp, but let’s not forget that he was sidelined with back issues in 2019, too. General managers are always wary of taking players with back issues (it’s the same with bum shoulders). Those guys slide…far.
If I were a betting man (which I’m not, and I’m not suggesting you should be either!), I’d be more comfortable wagering on Farley falling out of the first round than being a top-25 pick. Kudos for Rank’s wishful thinking here, but I don’t see it happening.
Instead, the risk that comes along with Farley’s injury will be greatly reduced at the top of the second round. In fact, teams will scratch and claw in an effort to trade up for him. He’d be a coveted player between picks 32 and 35, which is where I think he ultimately comes off the board.