Caleb Farley breakdown

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Caleb Farley: A Dangerous Temptation

BY CIAN FAHEY
@QBDataMine


It's hard to talk yourself into taking a cornerback in the top 10 of the draft nowadays.

Best case scenario, you draft the next Darrelle Revis. But Darrelle Revis in this version of the NFL doesn't have the same impact as Darrelle Revis 10 years ago. That Darrelle Revis was hugely valuable because he could shut down receivers on his own. That's tougher and tougher to do because of how passing games continue to evolve.

So even if you see a truly special talent at cornerback, you still have to really convince yourself to spend a high pick on him. In reality, the likelihood is you would need there to be weak options at other spots to convince yourself to take the cornerback. It's even easier to talk yourself into a great safety now than it is a great corner.

Caleb Farley is hoping to prove that theory wrong over the coming years.

Farley is the top cornerback in this year's draft. Another Virginia Tech defensive back, Farley is 6'2" and 207 lbs. He doesn't always look it on the field though, and that's a complement. Farley plays small when there's cause to play small and he plays big when there's cause to play big.

He combines fleet footwork, long speed and precision in his coverage assignments before showing off his size and ball skills at the catch point or when battling receivers in tight coverage. He has impressive length and can handle different assignments because of his versatile skill set and technique.

If you ascribe to the idea that cornerbacks are still valuable enough to go in the top ten of the draft, he'd be a consideration. Jeff Okudah went third overall last year. Farley is better than him. But Okudah's head coach also got fired.

So there's that.



If we start off with the Notre Dame game, this is his first highlight play of the game. The ball isn't thrown his way. The quarterback eventually runs around behind the line of scrimmage before throwing the ball away. Regardless of that, what Farley did was perfect.

He began the play in off coverage but importantly didn't take an extended drop from there. He took two steps back and stayed on his toes. That put him in position to break on the ball and cover any vertical route. Too often you see with young corners they will take the same drop from off coverage that they take when they're closer to the line of scrimmage.

That obviously just ends up giving the quarterback an easy completion underneath.

Farley is quick to transition and break on the receiver's curl route. The quarterback looked for him but pulled the ball back in when he saw Farley coming so quickly. The coaching staff obviously saw his aggressiveness too. They dialed up a play to take advantage of it immediately after.



Hook, line and sinker. He bought it. All you can do here is hold your hands up and say you lost focus on your assignment. The rolling pocket and the receiver breaking outisde convinced Farley that he was going to jump the route for the interception. It's important for his coach to emphasize the down-and-distance to him here.

There was no first down threat on the quick out route so there's no reason to bite on the short throw.

Farley doing this so early in the game was concerning. Immediately your thought is that he's too aggressive. That he's too inclined to chase interceptions. You want a cornerback who creates interceptions within the structure of the defence. A cornerback who chases turnovers at the expense of his assignment is a bad cornerback no matter how many turnovers he comes up with.

You'll never catch enough passes to offset the big plays you give up. But if we go back to that first play, Farley wasn't aggressive there. He was quick. He moved forward when he saw the receiver's curl route. It was perfectly timed.

So there was reason to believe this was a lapse in concentration rather than a reflection of his overall approach. And over the rest of the game, he proved that it was just a once-off error.



Technique is a word that's used a lot. It essentially just boils down to three things: How do you move your feet, how do you use your hands and how do you position yourself on the field. Cornerbacks need to be light on their feet without being overly active. They need to know what they can get away with in terms of contact with the receiver and they need to know how to find the ball in the air.

Farley's positioning consistently stands out. He's perfect in his zone drops, understanding depth and where to position himself relative to the routes being run and the coverage he's executing. You'll see him force quarterbacks to throw to other spots regularly.

This isn't a zone play, it's another man coverage play but it's perfect to capture his technique.

Farley is always in position to play the ball. He again begins the play in off coverage and doesn't overextend his backpedal from there. When the receiver turns, he comes forward again at the perfect time. But crucially, this time he has his eyes on the quarterback. This time he doesn't jump on the receiver.

Not only that, Farley settles right next to the receiver in position to break on the ball. The pass is never thrown so Farley has to stay active. When his receiver moves, Farley instantly looks away from the quarterback to focus on the reciever. He flips his hips and follows the receiver while maintaining an upfield position.

There is no opportunity for the receiver to turn up the sideline. He's forced to work backwards.

Even then, Farley nearly breaks up the pass. In fact, the only mistake he makes on this play is not looking for the ball when he comes forward. And that's such a minimal criticism because he's already done his job to 99% perfection by that stage. He'll make so many positive plays just by putting himself in that position at the next level.



Strong technique allows you to play fast but more importantly, it allows you to play controlled. It creates comfort in uncomfortable situations. Farley is alone outside on the wide side of the field here. He has a two-way go even though he's not covering the slot.

That means he's responsible for the receiver if he goes past his outside shoulder or if he breaks past his inside shoulder. Farley is always in position to play the vertical to the pylon and he even turns his hips in that direction after gaining ground initially.

Turning his hips like that should have opened opportuntiy for the receiver to get open but Farley is so quick and so controlled he is instantly back in position. Part of the reason that worked was his original starting point.

Farley didn't rush to try and take away the sideline. He established inside and stayed inside. He understood the value of the sideline and he understood he'd be able to squeeze the receiver over the sideline even if he wasn't on top of the route early in the play.

Revis was always the best cornerback in the league at this sort of movement. It was a terminator turn where his whole body flipped direction despite him seemingly not actually moving.

Nobody is on Revis' level but this was pretty impressive.



If we move to the Miami game, we can see something similar where Farley takes an inside position and dares the wide receiver to beat him deep. He opens his hips to the sideline but has the speed to push off inside and stay with the receiver despite him making a pretty good cut.

The receiver is probably open to catch the ball here but Farley will instantly take him down so the gain would be minimal.

His transition speed is top notch. But what happens when a receiver actually takes his invite to go down the sideline and gets a step on him?



On the first play against Florida State, Farley puts in a poor jam attempt. He stops his feet and uses his inside arm so it's easy for the receiver to get outside. He's on the defensive back's upfield shoulder and the defender can't look for the ball in the air. This is a good position for the receiver.

Farley is somewhat bailed out by the throw not leading the receiver away from him but he also deserves credit for his recovery speed. Surpassed that, once he closes to the receiver, he's very smart with his hand usage.

His hands are aggressive but not overly so. He doesn't push the receiver or grab his inside arm, he just does enough to close on top of him from where he can play the ball in the air without seeing it.

This is a textbook example of playing the receiver's hands when you can't see the ball.

It's a great play.



In a similar manner, we see Farley combine his balance and fleet footwork with his comfort not knowing where the ball is on this play. He only looks for the ball at the last second, when it lands in his stomach. He covered the receiver so well that he had to make no effort to make the interception.

It should be noted that the receiver's route here is one that would get him benched in the NFL. It's awful. But still, it wasn't easy for Farley to get into the position that he did. He had to be willing to let the receiver get deeper than him initially so as not to be on his back when the ball arrived.



Farley had six interceptions in college. A good number but far more important were the countless examples of his ball skills. He so easily finds the ball in different coverages against different types of receivers. On this play, he flips his hips and turns the wrong way while covering the post route but still has the awareness not to go through the back of the receiver at the catch point.

He plays over the receiver, allowing him to get to the ball first and making it impossible for the official to throw a flag against him.



For this interception in his own endzone, Farley wins in the route early so he's latched to the receiver's inside shoulder on a vertical route. What's really impressive here is how he fights to hold his position. We can see the receiver trying to slow him down so he can come back to the ball.

It's actually a really impressive play from the receiver because he recognized the flight of the ball early. Farley just doesn't give an inch. He's in control. He's the one determining who will have position on the ball when it arrives.

This is where we see Farley's frame and athleticism having a functional impact.

Like Richard Sherman, he's not going to be moved off his spot often. But maybe unlike Sherman, he's going to have flexible enough hips to move around the field and win in man coverage against all kinds of receivers. Sherman is a hall of fame player, deservedly so, but he also has clear limitations in certain scenarios.

Maybe Farley shows off more flaws against NFL receivers but it doesn't feel like he will. Cornerbacks take time to transition to the NFL normally. Farley should project to be a strong starter early in his career. He is so polished technically and so talented physically that success feels inevitable.

Farley probably makes every single team in the league better. But how much better is always going to be the question.

If you want a cornerback, you're not likely to find many better prospects over the years. If you want a cornerback to round out your defence and you're picking somewhere outside the top 10, you could be about to pick up great value.
 
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Farley’s stock has dropped due to back concerns, making him an option at #20.
 

Milky

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Idk man… picking Farley would leave you with two extremely talented bookend corners who both have significant injury concerns. It’s a gamble.
 

Luke

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I had a microdiscectomy, very slow recovery time. Surgeon said 6-12 months to be 100%, of course I'm older and not a world class athlete.

Tiger Woods had 3-4 of them, maybe one fusion.

There was an ex great football player who had 16 knee surgeries and 1 back surgery who said he'd take the 16 knee surgeries every time over the 1 back surgery.

Too risky

If they take a CB at 20, I'm betting on Newsome.
 
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rawdawg

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I had a microdiscectomy, very slow recovery time. Surgeon said 6-12 months to be 100%, of course I'm older and not a world class athlete.

Tiger Woods had 3-4 of them, maybe one fusion.

There was an ex great football player who had 16 knee surgeries and 1 back surgery who said he'd take the 16 knee surgeries every time over the 1 back surgery.

Too risky

If they take a CB at 20, I'm betting on Newsome.
Agree. Back injury scares me. But there's so much upside with Farley it may be worth it. Farley is an excellent player with Jalen Ramsey potential. I agree with Newsome more likely as the target if they go CB, but gotta remember, Newsome has missed like 13 games in 3 years at Northwestern. Of course, his nagging small injuries are probably less risky than a potentially degenerative back condition, especially when you have Johnson and his shoulder on the other side.
 

Luke

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Agree. Back injury scares me. But there's so much upside with Farley it may be worth it. Farley is an excellent player with Jalen Ramsey potential. I agree with Newsome more likely as the target if they go CB, but gotta remember, Newsome has missed like 13 games in 3 years at Northwestern. Of course, his nagging small injuries are probably less risky than a potentially degenerative back condition, especially when you have Johnson and his shoulder on the other side.
No chance they have a shot at Slater, so they were definitely taking a long look at Newsome.
IMO, CB is the biggest hole on the team and would be my positional guess at 20 depending on how the draft goes.
Artie Burns 990k salary, Trufants will probably be the same. Are they waiting on Physicals?


The workout -- held inside Northwestern's picturesque training facility, Ryan Fieldhouse, which sits on the shores of Lake Michigan -- featured the following NFL hopefuls: DL Earnest Brown IV, WR Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman, LB Paddy Fisher, LB Blake Gallagher, WR Riley Lees, DB Greg Newsome II, DB JR Pace, QB Peyton Ramsey, TE John Raine, OL Rashawn Slater, OL Gunnar Vogel.

NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales, who was on assignment in Evanston, Illinois, reports that Bears general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy both attended the session, as did Packers GM Brian Gutekunst, Raiders GM Mike Mayock and Vikings GM Rick Spielman.

Newsome turned heads by blazing a 4.38 40-yard dash at 6-foot, 192 pounds. The first-team All-Big Ten corner also sprung 40 inches on the vertical leap. Boasting an enticing blend of size and athleticism, Newsome's stock continues to rise throughout the pre-draft process, with first-round chatter cropping up of late.

"He's probably going to end up going in the 20s when it's all said and done," NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Tuesday. "He's a really good football player."
 
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msadows

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No chance they have a shot at Slater, so they were definitely taking a long look at Newsome.
IMO, CB is the biggest hole on the team and would be my positional guess at 20 depending on how the draft goes.
Artie Burns 990k salary, Trufants will probably be the same. Are they waiting on Physicals?


The workout -- held inside Northwestern's picturesque training facility, Ryan Fieldhouse, which sits on the shores of Lake Michigan -- featured the following NFL hopefuls: DL Earnest Brown IV, WR Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman, LB Paddy Fisher, LB Blake Gallagher, WR Riley Lees, DB Greg Newsome II, DB JR Pace, QB Peyton Ramsey, TE John Raine, OL Rashawn Slater, OL Gunnar Vogel.

NFL Network reporter Stacey Dales, who was on assignment in Evanston, Illinois, reports that Bears general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy both attended the session, as did Packers GM Brian Gutekunst, Raiders GM Mike Mayock and Vikings GM Rick Spielman.

Newsome turned heads by blazing a 4.38 40-yard dash at 6-foot, 192 pounds. The first-team All-Big Ten corner also sprung 40 inches on the vertical leap. Boasting an enticing blend of size and athleticism, Newsome's stock continues to rise throughout the pre-draft process, with first-round chatter cropping up of late.

"He's probably going to end up going in the 20s when it's all said and done," NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Tuesday. "He's a really good football player."
Normally I'd say no shot of them going defense at #20, but I have zero clue what dumbfuck pace is doing this offseason.

You would think that cutting an all pro corner would mean he wanted to allocate that money to the offensive side in free agency. Nope, just andy dalton.
 

tardigrade

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I’m fairly certain i don’t know what r. Pace is doing
 

msadows

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Trade down from 20. Pick Newsome in 2nd rd if Bears desire CB. No way I would draft CB in 1st rd this year. The O-line and WR prospects are better.
Agreed. There is a very real possibility Waddle can drop to #20, and if not him that we can get a starting LT/RT day one.
 

vanavyman

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With Brad Biggs' mock having us taking Farley at 20 it's a concern. Without the injury risk he is a top 15 talent. Don't like drafting higher pick CBs in back to back drafts. Makes resigning them more difficult. Rather draft a WR or OT in round 1.
 

dennehy

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Unless they are comfortable with Vildor or Trufant (or Robertson but that seems unlikely), they need 2 starting CBs right now because Shelley isn't a starter. Maybe they image Trufant as nickel?

Anyway, I'd pass on Farley and be looking CB in the second round or third, where there are a few guys who I think could make an impact at Nickel immediately in Molden, Samuel, and Robinson. Let the others fight it out for outside CB2 and concentrate on fixing the offense with your other high picks.
 

Luke

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Unless they are comfortable with Vildor or Trufant (or Robertson but that seems unlikely), they need 2 starting CBs right now because Shelley isn't a starter. Maybe they image Trufant as nickel?

Anyway, I'd pass on Farley and be looking CB in the second round or third, where there are a few guys who I think could make an impact at Nickel immediately in Molden, Samuel, and Robinson. Let the others fight it out for outside CB2 and concentrate on fixing the offense with your other high picks.
I can't imagine they are comfortable with any of these guys as a starting CB and a CB by committee will be a disaster.
Artie Burns salary was just released at 990k, I'm sure Trufant will be similar so these are all depth guys.
you mention getting a CB in the 2nd or 3rd for nickle but forgot about the starting CB.
imo, its more likely Vildor, Burns or Trufant will be backup CBs and/or nickle backs.

Once again, it will depend upon how the draft falls and who was taken before 20.
If they don't think theres a CB worthy, they could go WR/OT just as easily.
Both Marshall and Toney ran 4.38 with incredible verticals and Bateman is today.
Remember, Pace was willing to cut Hicks to get Golladay so WR is high priority as well.
There is a plethora of OT's so there will definitely be one at 52 maybe 83.
 
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dennehy

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I can't imagine they are comfortable with any of these guys as a starting CB and a CB by committee will be a disaster.
Artie Burns salary was just released at 990k, I'm sure Trufant will be similar so these are all depth guys.
you mention getting a CB in the 2nd or 3rd for nickle but forgot about the starting CB.
imo, its more likely Vildor, Burns or Trufant will be backup CBs and/or nickle backs.

Once again, it will depend upon how the draft falls and who was taken before 20.
If they don't think theres a CB worthy, they could go WR/OT just as easily.
Both Marshall and Toney ran 4.38 with incredible verticals and Bateman is today.
Remember, Pace was willing to cut Hicks to get Golladay so WR is high priority as well.
There is a plethora of OT's so there will definitely be one at 52 maybe 83.
I didn't forget about it, they aren't going to draft two starting CBs (unless they get ridiculously lucky) and there are going to be some holes on the team. Trufant is like $1.1m, vet minimum for his number of years I think.

One of Vildor, Burns, Trufant, or Roberson is going to start and possibly two of them. There's probably a greater chance that a draft pick on the outside won't be ready to start, especially if it's not a first rounder. This team is going to have some big holes no matter what. No one has even begun to address SS yet, right now it's Bush and DHC, and depending on how things shake out it might wind up with those two completing for the starting spot.
 

Luke

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I didn't forget about it, they aren't going to draft two starting CBs (unless they get ridiculously lucky) and there are going to be some holes on the team. Trufant is like $1.1m, vet minimum for his number of years I think.

One of Vildor, Burns, Trufant, or Roberson is going to start and possibly two of them. There's probably a greater chance that a draft pick on the outside won't be ready to start, especially if it's not a first rounder. This team is going to have some big holes no matter what. No one has even begun to address SS yet, right now it's Bush and DHC, and depending on how things shake out it might wind up with those two completing for the starting spot.
And thats why CB at 20 is very likely if they think they have a day 1 starter -If not, they look elsewhere.
Yes, there will be holes all over the place.
I bet they are more content with Ifedi at 4.25mil starting at RT than any of those guys you think will start at CB.
The contracts alone will tell you that.
 

dennehy

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And thats why CB at 20 is very likely if they think they have a day 1 starter -If not, they look elsewhere.
Yes, there will be holes all over the place.
I bet they are more content with Ifedi at 4.25mil starting at RT than any of those guys you think will start at CB.
The contracts alone will tell you that.
One of them is going to be starting at CB whether it's outside or the slot.

I'm just articulating where I think the best value is for CBs, given that Farley is risky.

Also not sure you can go strictly by contract value in this situation, they cut Fuller on March 20 after hoping to re-sign him and singed Trufant and Burns after Dalton.
 

The Big Grabowski

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Don't like drafting higher pick CBs in back to back drafts. Makes resigning them more difficult. Rather draft a WR or OT in round 1.
If you draft CB in the 1st, you have the 5th year option which separates your young CB contracts by 2 years. I'm not comfortable with JJ's shoulder so that elevates need at the position, otherwise I'd be looking at a nickel in the 3rd.
 

The Big Grabowski

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It's been a year since anyone has seen Farley since he opted out of 2020. Heading into the draft with injury concern is definitely reason to pump the breaks.

On Move the Sticks, DJ and Bucky were talking about his likely draft position. Farley's agent was talking about him being ready for camp because the procedure was outpatient, but chatter around the league is he may fall into the 2nd. That's how it played out with Jaylon Smith and the Cowboys.
 

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