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Former NFL Scout believes Caleb Farley is good corner, but he is not an elite lock down corner in the NFL

Caleb Farley Virginia Tech NFL Draft
Former NFL Scout Daniel Kelly is worried about Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley’s medicals. Farley is expected to have a medical procedure this week.

Scouting Report: CB Caleb Farley 6’2″ 207 (Virginia Tech) Ran a reported 4.37 (40)

Dynamic game-changing pure cover corner with good height, play-making ability, recovery speed, short area burst, some tightness in his hips who reluctantly provides support outside of his assignments. Opt-out in 2020. First player in college football to opt-out. Has some DeAngelo Hall in him. Caleb Farley has good mental toughness and has shown he can overcome real adversity when he lost his mother to cancer in 2018. Has the attitude and confidence needed to succeed as a corner in the NFL. Has that edge. Exudes confidence. Good energy level. Former receiver turned corner in college and often gives the look of being the receiver in coverage. Excellent ball skills and instincts when the ball is in the air. By nature during his assignments he is physical and contests strongly, but only in his specific assignments. All he seems to care about is his assignments. Delivers some real shots against his man, but when it is not his assignment he becomes passive and reluctant looking. Does not appear to be a team player. Likes to play on an island by himself (Games reviewed: 2019 Notre Dame, Miami and 2018 Boston College and North Carolina. Also reviewed all of his top plays in college career).

Pre-snap he can be seen pointing out directions with his hands. Gives impression he is football smart and he has a good grasp on what is going on. Alert looking body movements. Snaps around quickly.

Likes to creep up to the line of scrimmage and play tight man press. Has that about him. Imposing size and demeanor up close and personal. Can play off too. Excels covering straight-line routes laterally (crossing) and vertically (deep). Good technique in man. Can turn and run. Has some get up and go. Good straight-line speed. Has recovery speed and short area-burst to close. Can get a hand in to bat the pass away on crossing routes. Tough on crossing routes. Looks like a play-maker in those specific situations. Physical and competitive. Defended a good number of passes in these situations. Showed he is extremely disciplined in zone coverage. Stays in his area to a fault. 

Excels on deep straight-line routes. Carries these routes well. Maintains good positioning and plays it tight. Challenges strongly and contests. Physical. However, occasionally showed he will play the man instead of the ball and can be prone to an occasional pass-interference call. 

The biggest issue is there is subtle tightness in his hips that shows up when he is forced to change directions on routes at any level. Farley will get you on straight-line routes, but you can get him on fast change of direction routes. Farley is able to break and react quickly on comeback routes, but generally only in time to make the stop after the fact. Does drive downhill quickly, but not quickly enough. Offenses also got him on out and up routes due to him needing to make that adjustment in space. Farley is a heck of a “highlight film,” type prospect who is easy to fall in love with. However, teams must take a closer look at this glaring deficiency and be willing to live with this before making the selection. As with any opt-out, the risk-reward factor also increases with a year away from the game. It is important to know what you are getting and not to reach based on the hype surrounding him. 

There is a growing consensus out there which suggests Farley is a lock-down elite corner and he is not. There is a lot to like. However, he is good, not great, again because of that subtle tightness in his hips that clearly shows up. Has the swag and attitude it takes to play the game at the highest level. Gets visibly demonstrative and fired up at times. Did come on one corner blitz (FSU), but that was not his thing in this scheme. In the games I reviewed, teams tended to challenge him deep and he was up for the challenge. They played right into his hand. Farley showed he brings the extra value of being a kick returner (NC and BC). Showed ability to get going up-field and instincts to find and exploit the holes where he could show off his straight-line speed. 

New concerns have also come to light recently according to insidethestar.com, “It was reported Farley was to undergo a microdiscectomy with back specialist Robert Watkins and would miss his Pro Day. A microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed on patients with a herniated lumbar disc. A surgeon removes portions of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the spinal cord nerve root. Seven to 12 weeks is expected time to fully recover from this procedure, which will put Farley on pace to be ready for training camp.”

Because of this concern and the additional ones covered, I can not give Farley a first-round grade. I see him being a good player for several years in the NFL, provided he can stay healthy. 

Daniel Kelly’s Draft Board: High to mid Second-Round (worth the risk at this point of the draft, has upside)Probability of being a bust: Mid-Range (Medical)

If I were a GM, these are the questions I need to be answered in my mind about Caleb Farley: He already has that subtle tightness in his hips. Now how will the back-surgery additionally affect his ability to change direction? How did the injury happen when he has not played in a year and if it was something that was bothering him, why did he wait this long to do something about it? Could this injury cause lingering or reoccurring problems down the road? 

My Top Five Concerns for Caleb Farley:

  1. Is he a team-player? 
  2. His inability to lock down and defend passes on routes which feature quick and crisp change of direction by receivers.
  3. The back surgery
  4. Will he really be 100 percent by the start of training camp?
  5. The year off away from the game. 

How NFL offenses will beat Caleb Farley: Routes that feature a quick change of direction and routes that take advantage of how aggressive he is by nature. Stay away from testing him on straight-line horizontal and deep vertical routes.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK. 

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