FRISCO, Texas – In the weeks following the NFL Combine, it's customary to begin hearing about so-called 'red-flags' and health concerns surrounding the draft class' top prospects. However, in this Covid-19 world that prevented the Combine from happening earlier this month, that news has taken longer than ever to travel throughout the league. This week, major injury news shook the top of the draft class, and more specifically a Cowboys target, as Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley will miss his pro day workouts to have a procedure completed on his back.
Farley has long been rumored and touted as the highest-graded cornerback in the 2021 draft class, even after his opt out of the 2020 college football season. The extremely athletic and well-built corner (6-foot-1, 207 pounds) has exceptional upside in the NFL which has been well documented among scouts. With Dallas selecting at 10 in the upcoming draft, Farley had been heavily mentioned in the conversation along with Patrick Surtain (Alabama) and Jaycee Horn (South Carolina) as potential cornerback selections in the first round. The upcoming procedure is to repair a damaged portion of a herniated disk in order to relieve pain that shoots down the patients' arms or legs.
Earlier this week, Drew Rosenhaus, Farley's agent, mentioned to the Dallas Morning News that a late-July return is the expected timetable. This will give certain teams hope on his availability for a full training camp and the possibility of a full rookie campaign. This edition of The Draft Show debated what the next steps are going to be for NFL front offices when evaluating Farley's situation and the domino effects that could follow. You can listen to the entire show here:
Greatest Debate: How far does Farley's stock fall after back surgery?
Along with the Farley news, comes the decision that teams have to make surrounding the top prospect. Just how much could this back injury linger into his professional career? Is there enough worry to knock his draft grade? Does the combination of an opt-out season and an offseason surgery require teams to worry even more about his durability? Farley has always deserved the top-prospect treatments in this draft class, but it certainly seems as both Patrick Surtain and Jaycee Horn have jumped the former CB1 without their own health concerns. With plenty of time until the draft, it will be interesting to see what teams decide to do when Farley slips to them somewhere on day one or two.
Cowboys Angle: Still thinking safety in the early rounds despite free agency?
It's been quite some time since the Cowboys have spent a first or second round pick on a safety, 2002 to be in fact. There are multiple safeties in the current draft class that are worthy of a premium pick, but Dallas' draft history and their recent moves in free agency suggest otherwise. The Cowboys have already signed Keanu Neal to provide some extra help in the secondary and are looking at other free agents like Malik Hooker and Damontae Kazee. These actions prompted David Helman to take the 'I'll believe it when I see it' mindset with safety and the draft. A thought process that he is certainly not alone in.
Under the Radar Player: Bryan was right on Notre Dame's Liam Eichenberg
One of the early questions with this draft class was just how deep the offensive tackle class is. Early on, it didn't look promising after the names of Penei Sewell (Oregon), Rashawn Slater (Northwestern), and Christian Darrisaw. But Bryan Broaddus saw through the smoke. Early in the draft process, Broaddus picked Notre Dame tackle Liam Eichenberg out of the crowd even before his weekend down at the Senior Bowl. A solid week in Mobile partnered with the offseason reports from team-to-team have seen his grade rise from a borderline day two pick, to potentially sneaking into the first round.
A new addition of The Draft Show goes live Thursday at 10am CT as Dane Brugler, Jeff Cavanaugh, and Kevin 'KT' Turner join Kyle Youmans to discuss whether or not there are some new options at pick number ten. With the pro day numbers coming across, teams prepare to shift around their draft boards more than ever. Including Horn and Surtain who had impressive pro day showings and could see a significant increase in their draft stock.