Dallas Cowboys Draft: Is Patrick Surtain II or Caleb Farley the better choice

Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /
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Caleb Farley, CB Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Caleb Farley, CB Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

The listed 6-foot-2, 207-pound cornerback from Maiden, North Carolina opted out of the 2020 college football season citing concerns over exposure to Covid-19 after his mother recently passed away because of breast cancer.

The Hokie hasn’t played football in a year after starting for two years and his draft stock been rock solid. Coming into the season as CB1 for most, he continues to be CB1. But why you ask?

Athletic Ability

It is no surprise the league is coveting long, strong corners because good press coverage can seriously limit the opposing QBs’ ability to complete passes, especially down the field. The Seattle Seahawks were largely responsible for this development with the creation of “The Legion of Boom” and the idea spread across the league.

As early as three years ago, the Dallas Cowboys were vocal about wanting cornerbacks who could play press coverage; ironic since the team had drafted two cornerbacks who were better in off coverage in Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie the season before.

At 6-foot-2, 207 pounds, Farley has the size and strength to match up against almost every receiver, but what makes him an impressive prospect is his ability to cover receivers who would generally be faster than someone of his size.

He displays good foot speed, good explosiveness, good acceleration, and good change of direction. He has the athleticism to match or mirror anyone in man or zone coverage.

Man Coverage

If you have heard the name Caleb Farley before, you likely have heard he was very good in man coverage. His athleticism allows him to mirror wide receivers of all sizes and speed at the line of scrimmage and through the route stem. Hip flips are so easy for him because of his good change of direction and he is smart with jams and general use of hands often forcing receivers to the boundaries.

However, by far the most impressive aspect of his game is his ability to play off-man coverage. For most players of his size, off-man is difficult because moving a big body from essentially a position of no velocity requires good explosiveness in order to close the window of separation between the receiver and cornerback.

Farley has this. His explosiveness is akin to the Byron Jones‘s and Jaire Alexander‘s of the football world. His explosiveness combined with his ability to quickly read and react to the wide receiver’s hips allows him to mirror receivers in all areas of the field.

Ball Skills

The Cowboys have been trying to make a concerted effort at causing more turnovers. There was progress this season with rookie Trevon Diggs grabbing three interceptions, second-year Donovan Wilson grabbing two interceptions and forcing three fumbles, and Anthony Brown grabbing two interceptions.

Most of these turnovers happened in the second half of the year; considering the team looked noticeably lost entering the bye week, the fact that they could carry momentum into the new season by forcing turnovers is a positive takeaway from this season.

Enter Farley. The cornerback only played for Virginia Tech for two seasons and in that “limited” time secured six interceptions, four in his final season. The Hokie displays good ball skills turning his head back to the quarterback in order to locate the ball and displays surprisingly good contested-catch skills to pluck the ball from the air.

Natural ball skills were a big reason why the Cowboys really valued Trevon Diggs last draft cycle and that wager paid off big in the end. (Well kind of, he’s only played one season) If the front office’s message is the same, Farley’s natural pass-catching ability should be highly coveted by the team.

Having two former wide receivers at both outside cornerback positions for the Cowboys should result in a lot of complete catches, but not by the opposing offense.