2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report


Caleb Farley Scouting Report

February 18, 2021 1:00 AM EST


Caleb Farley Scouting Report picture

School: Virginia Tech

Height: 6'2"

Weight: 207

Eligibility: RJR

Uniform: #3

Position: CB


Evaluated by: Austin Smith
Smith.Austinj14@gmail.com
Twitter: NFLDraftAustin
February 18th, 2021

Prospect Overview


2018: 36 tackles, 2 ints, 7 PD’s, 1 sack
2019: 20 tackles, 4 ints, 12 PD’s, 1 TD

A three-star recruit as a dual-threat quarterback out of North Carolina, Farley was a second-team All-State signal-caller behind current Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker as a senior. Still, when he got to Blacksburg, he quickly got moved to the defensive side of the ball. After a knee injury his freshman year during camp, Farley became a starter as a redshirt freshman in 2018. He played in all 13 games and tied for the team-lead with two interceptions while finishing first with seven pass-breakups.


Caleb Farley Scouting Report image 1

As a third-year sophomore, Farley became one of the most dangerous cover-guys in the ACC. He led the conference in passes defended with 16 while collecting a team-high four interceptions that finished second in the ACC. However, Farley did miss the final two games with back spasms. While choosing to return as a fourth-year junior, he became the first player major talent to opt out last summer and focus on preparing for the draft.

The injuries and lack of playing time are a concern, but when healthy and on the field, he appeared on his way to being one of the top defenders in this class. Farley has one of the rarer combinations of size and athleticism at the position in this class. Teams will undoubtedly take notice of that value at one of the most challenging positions to succeed at in football.

Positives

As I mentioned, Farley has a rare combination of size and athleticism. Let's start with the problems his size can cause in coverage. Farley measures in at six feet, two inches, and his arm length is expected to be a plus. When he is in good position to cover, it is very difficult for quarterbacks to get the ball to the man Farley is guarding. Scouts talk a lot about a receiver's catch-radius. Still, his defense-radius is impressive, and he exponentiates it with his ability to elevate and extend his hands to the ball. In press coverage, it intimidates players to the point that they do their best to avoid his reach with their release. Not many try to be physical with him at the line, and by avoiding him, it gives him time to either get in their hip pocket or position himself to keep them from getting back on their stem. Coming out of his break, he may not be as twitchy as last year's top corner, Jeffrey Okudah. Still, he has good change-of-direction ability for his size, and his size and arm length make up for the rest.


Caleb Farley Scouting Report image 2

Speaking of that quick-twitch athleticism, I believe Farley is impressive in that area for a player his size. He flips his hips pretty well for a big corner too, and when you factor in the terrific recovery speed, it makes Farley tough to beat deep. That ability to accelerate also shows up when his receiver runs something that breaks in front of him. Farley digs in and comes downhill hard, giving him a chance to beat the ball to his man. His route-recognition is pretty good, and the angles he takes coming out of his pedal are as well. I'm not saying he can't grow in these areas, but when he's on point, his acceleration is the reason he gets his hands on balls. Furthermore, his ability to recover with speed allows him the confidence to sit on routes.

I'm also a fan of his ability to track the ball and play with strength at the catch-point. We don't see many examples of him catching the football, but he does show a strong ability to track it with his eyes and extend his hand to the ball accurately. That must go back to his days as an offensive standout in high school. One interception that particularly stands out to me was against Miami, in which they tested him deep. Not only was he in great position, but he tracked the ball well, making him the one most capable of making a play on it. The receiver tried to fight his way back to the ball, but Farley leaned into him to keep his position between the ball and the offensive player. He reeled in the interception, and the receiver had no chance of preventing it because of Farley's power and focus. Dealing with physical receivers is not going to be an issue with him because of these qualities. Very few corners can say that heading into the NFL.

Areas for Improvement

This starts with his abilities against the run. For a player his size, I expected him to be far better, but that's not the case, and it starts with his approach. For starters, we don't see him play very physical when being blocked. In fact, guys that get their hands on him have quite a bit of success staying locked on. That's a shame, given his arm length and size. Farley has to do a better job of shedding blocks, or he will be a liability. He also waits on runners to get to him as opposed to attacking them. On runs to the edge, he doesn't attack the line of scrimmage, nor does he take angles to force the play inside. This is a necessity to be an NFL corner. You can't wait back. Maybe part of this is just his inexperience at the position, but it's a legit concern and one that must be improved upon quickly. As I said, Farley has the tools to be good in this area.

Another area Farley can improve on is his hands. While collegiate receivers avoid hand-fighting with him at the line of scrimmage, we often see him settle for not using a jam. I'd like to see him get that initial push more often to throw the timing off on the route. Farley can also use this to push players closer to the sideline. In coverage, the boundary is a corner's friend. Farley's length can force that on pass-catchers. I'd also like to see him be a little less grabby, both at the top of the route and when he hasn't gotten his head around. It doesn't happen often based on the circumstances he's usually in Virginia Tech's coverage scheme. Still, there are examples of him grabbing in those scenarios, and I'd like to see him trust his athleticism a little more. We see young corners bail out quarterbacks too many times in these situations on passes that aren't even accurate. I'd like to see him do better.

Also, while he does a relatively good job recognizing routes, he occasionally put himself in tough situations because of misreading or playing over-aggressive against a route. His footwork and pedal are both solid as well but could use a bit more refinement. In general, he could use more polish overall at the position, but that's something teams will have to be comfortable with because his overall skill set will be tough to overlook.


Caleb Farley Scouting Report image 3

Draft Stock

As I said, he's got a rare combination of size and athleticism. Alabama's Patrick Surtain has his size and much more polish, but he's not the athlete Farley is on tape. South Carolina's Jaycee Horn is an exceptional athlete, but his size isn't in the same conversation as Farley's either. Those two are who he will compete with to be the top overall defensive back taken. For my money, I'm betting on him because of the combination I eluded to earlier. I will add that coverage scheme could be the determining factor in the end. For teams that like to run a steady mix of cover-three and press-man, ala Seattle, Farley is the prototype. His ability to go north and south in a hurry, as well as his size, are tailor-made for the system that made the Legion of Boom so dominant. He's also a high-level competitor, and that is something teams want in a player that lives on the perimeter.

I'll add that I felt there was a level of maturity in his explanation for opting out. Farley made it clear why he was making the decision, and I believe scouts appreciated it. The idea of deciding to sit out a bowl game, or a season, in this case, can be very tough to evaluate. Is it a business decision, and how far does he lean toward the business side? Scouts always ask this when sitting out is involved. Sure, it's a player's right to do what's best for himself, but professional football is a combination of a business, a competition, and a team sport. Evaluators want to know if the decision was made with a healthy balance of those aspects involved. Leaning too far towards the business side can be a red flag. I felt Farley's explanation of concern for the protocols involved to prevent catching COVID-19 and his personal experience losing his mother to an illness was well communicated to those who are evaluating him. The only areas that could decrease his stock are the inexperience and the injuries. Still, it will be hard to pass on him early in the first round and he could even be the first defender off the board.


Caleb Farley Scouting Report image 4

Player Comparison

Cornerback is one of the toughest positions to make comparisons on, but I'll liken his game to two that have both seen success in the NFL. First off, his ability to play north and south in coverage reminds me of Byron Jones. I think Jones is faster, and I know he elevates better (Jones is a world-class jumper), but Farley has a bit better size, which helps bridge the gap to what I think will make him a similar player. Jones came on in Kris Richard's system that he learned while in Seattle, and I believe Farley can have similar success in the NFL.

The other is Marlon Humphrey. Coming out of Alabama, is skill set intrigued me. He wasn't going to be the twitchy athlete that teams want in a high first-round corner, but Humphrey wasn't far off in that aspect, and his size/length helped make up the difference. If Farley can learn to be as physical early in the route as Humphrey has become, I think he has All-Pro written all over him.

Games Evaluated

    at Miami (10-5-19)
    vs. North Carolina (10-19-19)
    at Notre Dame (11-2-19)
    vs. Wake Forest (11-9-19)
    vs. Pittsburgh (11-23-19)

Notes from Film

  • Such a tough player to throw the ball against when he's in good position because he has elite size, length and can really elevate. If a receiver doesn't get good separation against him, quarterbacks are going to be hesitant to throw the ball in that direction.
  • Speaking of tough to throw on when he's in position, stronger receivers aren't going to give this guy a problem. Against Miami, an underthrow put him in position to make a play on the ball with the receiver on his back. He leaned into the player and intercepted the pass without being muscled off the ball. He was the stronger player, and didn't let the contact break his focus.
  • Despite the size and strength, I'd like to see him be better against the run and it starts with his ability to get off blocks. I'd love to see him play with more intensity when it comes to players getting their hands on him. He's not a poor tackler but once again, I'd like to see him be more aggressive. Attack downhill and force the play back inside of him. The aggression we see from him in coverage is far greater than these areas, and I'd like to see that improve. There are actually times I see him with a path to the ball carrier, yet he engages with the blocker instead as if almost trying to avoid being part of the tackle.
  • I like how he comes downhill when breaking on a route. He keeps his feet under him, processes his read and breaks on the route with very good acceleration. He can get a bit too aggressive sometimes, and it opens him up for double-moves but didn't see a lot of that on film.
  • A little high in his pedal but most tall corners are. He gets away with it because of how quickly he sinks his hips when breaking on the ball. He also flips his hips really well for a bigger corner, and has terrific recovery speed.
  • In press coverage, I really like his balance in his stance. He's got his weight under him. He flips his hips well to keep the receiver from getting too much separation if he doesn't get a hand on him. He's patient and doesn't always force his jam. When he does get his hands on the receiver, it can be really disruptive.
  • It is not easy to beat him deep. His size and speed make him tough to get behind. On tape, it doesn't happen often either. Chase Claypool didn't have a ton of luck against him. Miami tested him a few times, but didn't have any luck either.
  • Was playing really well against North Carolina when he got hurt. Did a great job defending the deep ball. Broke on several underneath and got his hands on the pass. In his next game against Wake Forest, he picked right where he left off. Against Pitt, they hardly tested him.
  • Not the twitchiest corner in this class, but for a player his size I would consider him in the upper echelon with his change-of-direction skills. Does a good job defending inward and outward breaking routes, and those long arms really help minimize the separation.
  • I also think his route recognition is pretty good, although he was beat for a touchdown by Jeff Thomas on a really good corner route in which Farley was sold on him going across the field. He flipped his hips inside, and even when Thomas straightened up in his stem, he never got his hips square again. When Thomas broke to the corner, he had no chance to keep up with him. Still, that's a rarity.
  • Once again, his makeup speed is exceptional. Watching him break on drag routes and get on the receiver's hip quick is impressive and leaves a small window for quarterback to get him the ball before he's in position.
  • His ability to go north and south so well makes me think a cover-three scheme, like what Seattle is known for, is where he will thrive first. My only concern about that scheme is how reliable corners have to be tackling on the edge. He's got the long arm and he's physical enough to do it, but he will most certainly have to do a better job of using those skills.
  • Has solid ball skills and knows what to do when he gets it in his hands, dating back to his days as a record-setting running quarterback in North Carolina.


Scouting Video Courtesy of Mills Productions


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