SURPRISE MOVE? Panthers choose South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn

By Richard Walker

Jaycee Horn

With a quarterback and two offensive tackles linked to their selection still available when the Carolina Panthers made their No. 8 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, the team selected a cornerback from the University of South Carolina.

Jaycee Horn, a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder, became the eighth straight defensive player chosen in the era of head coach Matt Rhule when the Panthers used their No. 8 overall first round pick on him Thursday night.

The son of former NFL star wide receiver Joe Horn of Fayetteville, Jaycee Horn was an All-SEC freshman selection in 2018 and a three-year starter for the Gamecocks who opted out of the 2021 season on Nov. 16 after the school fired head coach Will Muschamp.

The Panthers in 2020 set NFL history by becoming the first team since the common draft of 1967 to use all of its draft picks on defensive players.

Jaycee Horn will compete for playing time at cornerback with a pair of recent Panthers draft picks – 2018 second-round Donte Jackson and 2020 fourth-rounder Troy Pride, Jr.

Jaycee Horn was selected with many mock drafts entering Thursday’s event predicting Carolina to have interest in quarterback Justin Fields of Ohio State and offensive tackles Rashawn Slater of Northwestern and Penei Sewell of Oregon.

It’s the first time the Panthers have selected a cornerback in the first round of the NFL Draft since they picked Chris Gamble of Ohio State with the No. 28 overall pick in 2004.

Carolina is slated to have two more picks on Friday – No. 39 in the second round and No. 73 in the third round – before having five picks on Saturdays (Nos. 113, 151, 191, 193 and 222).

… Former Maiden High standout was the first N.C. prep product of several expecting to be drafted this weekend.

Farley, a cornerback from Virginia Tech, was selected in the first round with the No. 22 overall pick by the Tennessee Titans.

Other former N.C. prep players with hopes of being drafted include Chazz Surratt of East Lincoln, Sage Surratt of East Lincoln and Lincolnton, Tre Harbison of Crest, Dyami Brown of West Mecklenburg, Divine Deablo of Mount Tabor, Landon Dickerson of South Caldwell, Caleb Farley of Maiden, Mark Gilbert of Fayetteville Terry Sanford, Mac McCain of Greensboro Dudley, Alim McNeill of Raleigh Sanderson, Hamsah Nasrildeen of Concord, Jamie Newman of Graham, Cornell Powell of Greenville Rose, Blake Proehl of Charlotte Providence, Larry Roundtree of Raleigh Millbrook and Javonte Williams of Wallace-Rose Hill.