The Panthers had a chance to take a quarterback. They opted for an immediate starter instead.
Carolina added to its defense with the eighth overall pick Thursday night in Cleveland, selecting South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn. Horn was the first defensive player taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Horn was one of two top corners who were at the center of a debate for supremacy, with the other being Alabama's Patrick Surtain II, who went one pick later to Denver, but Carolina proved it preferred the 6-foot-1, 205-pound son of former Saints, Chiefs and Falcons receiver Joe Horn.
Horn is especially effective in press man coverage, using his size and length to win physical matchups at the line of scrimmage. Horn ranked first in the Southeastern Conference in completion percentage allowed in 2020 at 33.3 percent, and allowed the lowest passer rating when targeted in the conference, per Pro Football Focus. He and Surtain were the only SEC players with 100-plus tackles and 20-plus passes defensed since 2018.
The selection of Horn is Carolina's eighth-straight pick spent on a defensive player in the Matt Rhule era, continuing a streak that began with Carolina's all-defense draft in 2020. Horn will plug into the lineup as a Day 1 starter opposite Donte Jackson, who voiced his pleasure with the pick via Twitter:
Interestingly, Jackson is entering the final year of his current contract in 2021, meaning Horn could be picked as his replacement more than his teammate. Then again, if he re-ups with the Panthers, Carolina projects to have an effective tandem in its secondary for years to come.