Carolina Panthers CB Jaycee Horn gets rave reviews ahead of crossroads 2024

It's a big year ahead for Jaycee Horn.
Jaycee Horn
Jaycee Horn / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody needs to tell Jaycee Horn how important the 2024 season is. The Carolina Panthers are counting heavily on the cornerback to stay healthy and reach his potential. This will have huge implications on the team's defensive outlook depending on which way it goes.

Horn is one of the league's best outside coverage presences when healthy. Turning out just 22 times over his three seasons so far isn't ideal, but the former first-round pick is confident these injury complications can become a thing of the past next time around.

The Panthers believe this too. Dan Morgan triggered Horn's fifth-year option before the deadline. This represents a supreme vote of confidence in the player. It also keeps the general manager's options open next spring regarding an extension or perhaps trying to get something back in return via the trade market.

Carolina Panthers need Jaycee Horn at his best in 2024

This could go either way. Horn is extremely gifted - one of the few players around the league capable of shutting down the opposition's best-receiving threat when fit and firing on all cylinders. He's also got the mentality Morgan is looking to build around during his cultural reset across the franchise.

Despite this, it's a crossroads campaign for Horn. He's getting the full support of teammates and coaches alike. One only has to look at the recent comments made by defensive pass game coordinator Jonathan Cooley via ESPN to see the esteem in which he is held.

"How he was able to dominate his matchup. What he has is rare. He has size. He has speed. He has instincts and he's very tough. The one thing that separates him from a lot of guys is his competitive drive. I think he can be the best."

Jonathan Cooley via ESPN

It's not just on-field production drawing rave reviews where Horn is concerned.

The player is also helping rookie and former South Carolina teammate Xavier Legette with his transition from college to the pros. This is a crash course in what it'll take to succeed in the NFL. At the same time, the rookie wide receiver won't come up against many better corners when competitive games arrive.

Legette was gushing in his praise of Horn based on comments via ESPN. He knows what a privilege testing skills against such an accomplished performer is from a development standpoint. Something that can propel both to better fortunes if the same trend continues throughout their respective stints in Carolina.

"He's one of the best corners that I ever played with just by how patient he is. That's forcing me to have to work on a release. I can't just work the same releases on him. He's real aggressive at the line, so that's forcing me to use my hands and have technique to be able to get away from him."

Xavier Legette via ESPN

Fans have heard the same thing about Horn from the moment he entered the league. They get their hopes up before another frustrating health issue complicates matters. The No. 8 overall selection in 2021 altered his fitness regime away from the facility during the offseason. Hopefully, it'll have the desired effect.

A lot is riding on the upcoming campaign for Horn. Anything less than outstanding production and putting a consistent run of games together will do. If this mission is completed, the Panthers could reward him with a longer-term commitment.

If it goes the other way, the ramifications will be catastrophic.