5 players the Carolina Panthers could have drafted instead of Jaycee Horn in 2021

Jaycee Horn and Pat Surtain II
Jaycee Horn and Pat Surtain II / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers could have drafted Patrick Surtain II

In what was a tossup between the top two cornerback prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers opted for Jaycee Horn instead of a fellow SEC player in Patrick Surtain II

Surtain was coming off a stellar career at Alabama which culminated in the Florida native winning a national championship in 2020 along with First Team All-SEC honors, being named a unanimous All-American, and SEC Defensive Player of the Year. This may have made it somewhat of a surprise when the Panthers chose Horn. 

It’s fair to say since being drafted Horn has shown to be just as talented as Surtain. The only thing separating the pair is availability.

In two seasons Horn has featured in just 16 of 34 games - whereas Surtain has played in 33 of 34 games missing just a single contest in his rookie year.  That means something in terms of value and experience.

This is reflected in the accolades Surtain has achieved during his short time in the league. He was voted to the All-Rookie Team in 2021, which was followed by Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro honors in 2022.

It’s fair to say Horn and Surtain are both in the upper echelons at their position. But the availability of the player taken by the Denver Broncos at No. 9 overall might leave the Panthers with a sense of regret.