After missing almost all of his rookie season with an injury, cornerback Jaycee Horn is feeling great and is reportedly “full go.” According to Steve Reed, a sports writer for The Associated Press, Horn told himself to be patient while dealing with the frustration of not being able to help his new team.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Panthers used their No. 8 overall pick to select Horn out of South Carolina. The expectation was that they would slot Horn as an immediate starter at nickel alongside free agent addition cornerback A.J. Bouye and starter Donte Jackson. Horn showed promise early, recording his first career interception in the second game of the season against division-rival Jameis Winston and the Saints.
In a Week 3 game against the Texans, Horn fractured bones in his foot, landing him on injured reserve. Unfortunately, he never made it back to the field in 2021, his rookie season ending after only three starts. In an attempt to make up for his absence, the Panthers would trade for two other former-top-10 draft picks in C.J. Henderson and Stephon Gilmore.
With Horn fully healthy and ready to contribute, the Panthers’ cornerbacks room is looking much younger. Bouye and Gilmore left as free agents, although Bouye is still unsigned and could always return, leaving Jackson, Henderson, and Horn to lead the room. Behind them will likely be veteran journeyman Rashaan Melvin, Keith Taylor, who was forced into action due to the litany of injuries at the position last year, and Chris Westry who started two games for a very injured Ravens secondary last year. Seventh-round draft pick Kalon Barnes, Myles Hartsfield, Stantley Thomas-Oliver III, and Madre Harper will also be competing for roster spots this preseason.
The young, new-look cornerback group of Jackson, Henderson, and Horn holds a lot of potential. With safeties Jeremy Chinn and Xavier Woods patrolling centerfield behind them, the three former-SEC standouts will have plenty of opportunities to bring the same success to Carolina that they displayed in college.