Green Bay Packers: Unexpectedly, Could Caleb Farley Fall Within Range?

BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 23: Defensive back Caleb Farley #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies reacts following a defensive play against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first half at Lane Stadium on November 23, 2018 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)
BLACKSBURG, VA - NOVEMBER 23: Defensive back Caleb Farley #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies reacts following a defensive play against the Virginia Cavaliers in the first half at Lane Stadium on November 23, 2018 in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images) /

At some point early on in this year’s draft, the Green Bay Packers really have to address the cornerback position. Not only in an attempt to try to upgrade the position for the 2021 season but also to begin restocking the cornerback shelf for 2022 and beyond, as Jaire Alexander is the only player that we know will be on the team after this season.

The good news for Green Bay is that this is a very deep class, and they should have the opportunity to address this need early on. Greg Newsome from Northwestern is highly rated and a favorite option among many Packer fans in the first round, and Eric Stokes is another name to know as well. But when it comes to potential first-round cornerbacks, could Green Bay have the opportunity to land Caleb Farley? Someone who many would consider the most talented corner in this class.

Well, that is what is difficult to decipher right now. Draft season is filled with rumors, and most of them are not true as NFL teams don’t want to give away any plans or how they feel about a prospect. But with the recent news of Farley undergoing what has been called a minor back surgery, Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline reports that this is a legitimate concern among teams and will hurt Farley’s draft stock:

"“Significantly more serious than people are portraying it to be in the sense that he is going to drop because of this. It is not just like they fixed your knee because your knee is likely fixed. With a back injury, it can reoccur. And this late in the game, it is not a good sign. I have talked to people in the league, and Farley’s people are trying to pawn it off as it is no big deal, he’ll be ready for football, for camp. People in the league say this is something that will have to be monitored, something we are going to have to watch. This is something that is a concern and will negatively impact his draft stock.”"

While Farley’s draft stock could very well suffer as a result of this recent surgery, does that mean he will fall all the way to the back-end of the first round? Well, we will just have to wait and see on that one.

It’s also not only this recent procedure that is causing Farley to potentially fall in the draft, but rather his entire injury history. In 2017 he suffered a torn ACL, and then in 2019, he missed two games with back spasms. On their own, each of these injuries doesn’t raise a red flag, but when added together along with how back injuries can continue to pile up, teams may not be willing to take that risk early on in the draft.

Prior to the news that Farley needed back surgery this offseason, he was considered by many analysts the top cornerback in this class, or at the very least, very close; and a potential top-10 pick in this draft. This is what makes this all very intriguing from the Green Bay Packers’ perspective if he does happen to slide into their range.

A two-year starter in 2018 and 2019 — he opted out of 2020 — Farley really burst onto the scene during that second season. He was targeted 50 times, allowing a completion rate of just 36 percent with four interceptions, four pass breakups, and a passer rating when targeted of 26.8, according to PFF ($$). Although two areas where Farley has to clean up his game is as a tackler, and he was also called for five penalties during that 2019 season as well.

But nonetheless, Farley comes to the NFL as a well-rounded prospect who is still ascending, and he is someone who would start — assuming he’s healthy — opposite of Jaire Alexander from Day 1.

He has the size teams covet at the corner position, standing 6’2″ and weighing 207 pounds with excellent athleticism to match. He is capable in both man and zone coverages and once the rust is shaken off and he becomes acclimated to the NFL level, it would seem like only a matter of time before he and Alexander would form the best corner duo in football.

Here is a quick snippet of what Joe Marino of The Draft Network had to say about Farley in his pre-draft report:

"“Farley brings a rare blend of physical traits to the table in terms of size, length, quickness, fluidity, and athleticism that he pairs with exceptional man coverage skills that make him an exciting NFL prospect. Not only is he sticky in man coverage, Farley has game-changing ball skills and is an alpha in coverage.”"

So what do the Green Bay Packers do if he is in range? There are the obvious injury risks that are involved; however, if he does happen to be on the board at 29 or close to it — which if he does fall, we don’t know how far it will be — the value would be too much for me to pass up.

And, of course, we can’t rule out Brian Gutekunst trading up for Farley if he comes within striking distance and the Packers do in fact think that highly of him because as we’ve seen, it Gutey wants someone, he will go and get him.

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Farley is a potential game-changing player at a premier position, and at the back-end of Round 1, it is worth the risk for the reasons I mentioned above. This really would feel like a boom or bust selection, and I certainly understand that’s worrisome in the first round, The Packers’ medical staff would absolutely have to be 100 percent on board with this selection.

With that said — and assuming he’s cleared medically — if the Green Bay Packers have the opportunity to land a top-10 talent like Farley — and this is especially true if they don’t have to trade up — then they have to do it.