The Tennessee Titans rolled the dice on Caleb Farley with their first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and this season is going to be an important one for the talented sophomore.
So far in camp, Farley seems to be having the year that a first-round rookie typically has when they are this talented.
Whether Farley wins or gets beaten on a rep, the general consensus is that he is in the right position and the result depends on what happens when it is time to make the catch. Will Farley use his length to disrupt the pass, or will the offense make a play?
While this hasn’t led to any turnovers in camp, that is what you want from a cornerback like Farley. The more confident he is that he can make up ground and impact the catch point even when it looks like he might be beaten, the more likely he is to attempt to jump routes and create turnovers.
Usually, fans don’t want to see their cornerbacks take a lot of risks, but Farley is a different animal. People have forgotten, but Farley is a physical phenom standing at nearly 6’2″ with 33.4-inch arms and elite speed. Before his injury, Farley was running the 40-yard dash in the 4.3 range and he was rumored to run in the 4.2s on good days.
He has been adding muscle this offseason and he doesn’t look like he has lost any speed, so on paper, you have an elite athlete that is being added to one of the best defenses in the NFL. But I don’t think anyone is expecting Farley to come in and be an All-Pro, so it is time to start asking what exactly the Tennessee Titans should be expecting from him this season.
How good can Caleb Farley be for the Tennessee Titans
In an ideal world, Farley should be the Tennessee Titans’ third-best cornerback.
Could he be better than that? Absolutely, but boundary cornerback isn’t a place where players usually hit the ground running.
Remember, Farley opted out of the 2020 season, and in 2021 he only played 97 snaps on defense between the preseason and regular season, before he was out for the season. For the most part, Farley hasn’t really had the chance to be “the guy” at cornerback.
Luckily, he shouldn’t have to be because that should fall on the shoulders of Kristian Fulton who had a Pro Bowl-caliber season in 2021. If you are looking for someone to be able to handle their business outside on an island, then Fulton is the obvious answer.
Inside, the Titans will have their choice between Elijah Molden and Roger McCreary (who looks incredible early in camp). Both cornerbacks will see a lot of time on defense this year, but whichever player wins the starting role in the slot will have done so because they were more reliable and made more of an impact than the other.
Assuming that the Tennessee Titans are going to take all of this into account and give Farley some safety help over the top, things should line up for Farley to be a playmaker this season.
While he probably won’t be a shutdown corner, his physical traits and the safety help he gets should give him the green light to play risky and to drive on the ball if it is hanging in the air. The Tennessee Titans’ defensive front looks like one of the best in the NFL and that means that there are going to be some errant passes. If Fulton is the “lockdown” guy and if the easy options at slot and tight end are taken away by Molden and McCreary, that should mean that the guy who gets tested the most is Farley.
He isn’t going to win them all and fans shouldn’t freak out if teams have some success against him, as long as he can be competitive on every route and make the offense pay for testing him every now and then.