NFL Draft News & Analysis

PFF 2021 NFL Draft Guide: PFF's top CB prospect, plus a wild-card CB to watch

Atlanta, GA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies defensive back Caleb Farley (3) returns an interception for a touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

PFF’s 2021 NFL Draft Guide includes scouting reports and advanced data on 150 draft prospects. So, what better way to celebrate its initial release than to take a look through the PFF lens at the top prospect at each position, along with one prospect to keep an eye on as we navigate through draft season.

PFF's 2021 NFL Draft Guide is live and available to all EDGE and ELITE subscribers. If you're already an EDGE or ELITE subscriber, download your copy here.

Top prospect: Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

Caleb Farley set the Maiden High School record for rushing yards in a single season (2,574) in his senior campaign. The second-team All-State quarterback also totaled 37 rushing touchdowns, 1,776 passing yards and 21 passing touchdowns. His 58 total touchdowns in a single season ranks third in North Carolina preps history, per Virginia Tech’s official site.

Tagged as a four-star recruit (247Sports), Farley received more than five offers throughout his recruitment, including Wake Forest, South Carolina and Virginia Tech, but he committed to the Hokies early in the process. In an interview with SB Nation, Farley said he planned to play offense. He had no plans to play on defense and wanted to be the team’s “yards after the catch guy.” In the interview, he also said that he recorded a 4.25-second 40-yard dash in high school but told people 4.35 because they didn’t believe him.

PFF’s 2021 NFL Draft Guide is loaded with three-page draft profiles on hundreds of NFL draft prospects in the 2021 class. The draft guide also includes three-year grades, advanced stats, player comparisons, 2021 NFL Scouting Combine data, 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl grades and much more. Click here to get your copy today!

Farley would have been firmly in the mix for CB2 behind Jeffrey Okudah had he declared after last season, but he returned only to be one of the first opt-outs this year. He's a size/speed demon and made up ground on every single receiver who got a step in him in 2019 — even Chase Claypool. The biggest knock on Farley will be his tackling, as he's missed 21 of 80 career attempts. And while Farley has the physical profile for press-man coverage, he's played only 58 such snaps in his college career.

NFL player comparison: Jimmy Smith

Biggest strength: Make-up speed

Biggest weakness: Press-man experience

Projection: First-round pick

Bottom line: Farley has the physical tools necessary to be an elite NFL
corner and he played like one in 2019.

For advanced stats, pros and cons, passing heatmaps, three-year grades, game-by-game breakdowns and more, download your copy today!

Biggest riser: Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse

Ifeatu Melifonwu was born May 1999 in Boston, Massachusetts, per Syracuse’s official athletic site. You may recognize the last name because his older brother, Obi, starred at safety for Connecticut from 2013-16 and then was drafted in the second round by the then Oakland Raiders in 2017. At 6-foot-4, 224 pounds, Obi recorded a 4.40s 40-yard dash, 44-inch vertical and an 11-foot-9 broad jump at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.

Ifeatu is a rare breed in his own right. The 6-foot-3, 213-pounder is long and athletic like his brother; he played running back, receiver and defensive back for Grafton High School and recorded over 1,876 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior. He also played basketball, lacrosse and ran track. However, Michigan and Syracuse were the only two Power 5 schools that offered him as a three-star recruit in 2018.

PFF's 2021 NFL Draft Guide contains a full list of pros/cons, a long-form written analysis above a bar chart of stable PFF metrics and Mike Renner's “Bottom Line” and “NFL Draft Projection” for every prospect in the guide.

The younger Melifonwu already plays the position that many thought his older brother and second-round pick, Obi, should switch to. While both brothers are physical freaks, each suffers from a distinct lack of physicality. One would think a 6-foot-3, 213-pound corner like Melifonwu would be a dog at the line of scrimmage, but that couldn't be further from the case. He excelled because of his smooth hips and long speed, not because he wanted to engulf receivers at the line. While it's far less of a concern at corner than it is at safety, the question remains: Can you coach that mentality?

NFL player comparison: N/A

Biggest strength: Rare physical tools

Biggest weakness: Playing “physical”

Projection: Second-round to third-round pick

Bottom line: Melifonwu has unicorn physical ability. Can you coach him to be
a little more domineering?

For advanced stats, pros and cons, passing heatmaps, three-year grades, game-by-game breakdowns and more, download your copy today!

Wild card: Tay Gowan, UCF

Tay Gowan was listed as just a two-star recruit coming out of Georgia’s Newton High School in 2016. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound defensive back received offers from only Miami (OH.), Coastal Carolina and Samford before committing to the Redhawks. He redshirted his 2016 season and then played in three games for Miami before taking his talents to JUCO. Gowan played in 11 games at Georgia’s Butler Community College and was considered a three-star JUCO transfer in 2019.

Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends in the PFF NFL Draft Guide will have two heat maps showing routes run for the offense (quarterbacks) or routes the player ran (wide receivers, tight ends) and another heat map showing targets. Offensive linemen and most defensive players have a display of snaps played by alignment.

Gowan's profile ticks a lot of boxes. Size, length, speed, production — you name it. The biggest red flag is the fact that we've seen him for only one year against AAC receivers. Even then, he was running a lot of NFL-type coverage concepts, seeing 81 coverage snaps in press man in 2019. It really is a shame he didn't receive a Senior Bowl invite because he could really use the tape against some top competition. There's very little that suggests he wouldn't more than hold his own.

NFL player comparison: L'Jarius Sneed

Biggest strength: Closing burst

Biggest weakness: Experience

Projection: Second-round pick

Bottom line: Gowan is a special mover at his size. He brings an NFL-level starter skill set to the table for a small-school corner.

Courtesy of PFF’s 2021 NFL Draft Guide, find PFF's top draft prospect, biggest riser and wild card to watch at each position here: 

QB | RB | WR | TE | OT | iOL | DI | EDGE | LB | S | CB

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