CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WNCN) — The Panthers needed to address two key positions coming into this draft. With their first pick, they took care of one by scooping up cornerback Jaycee Horn.
At 6-foot-1, 205-pounds he is just the type of aggressive player Carolina needs out there locking down the physical receivers in the NFC South.
“I just think with the big receivers we have to face, week in and week out, you have Mike Evans, you have Chris Godwin, you have Michael Thomas, you have Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, now Kyle Pitts. It’s going to take a lot of guys who can cover, and also can cover really big men,” Panthers head coach Matt Rhule. “You know how we feel about Donte (Jackson), we’re excited about the guys we brought in last year, but there’s a size match up in the NFC South that matters. And he checks that box for us.”
“I feel like that’s one of my strengths being able to match up with big receivers,” said Horn in a phone interview. “I’ve got the size and speed to match routes well with those great receivers in the conference so I can definitely understand the thought process behind the pick and I’m definitely ready to go prove them right.”
Another box he checks is attitude. Not the kind you don’t want on a team that can poison a locker room but rather the throwback swagger that was present when the Panthers “Thieves Avenue” was picking off quarterbacks left and right.
“We loved the competitive makeup, the cover ability, and just the person,” general manager Scott Fitterer said. “He brings a lot of energy. I think he’s a really good fit for this team and we’re excited to get him.”
The left tackle the team was looking for, Penei Sewell, went one pick ahead of them to Detroit. Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields was still on the board as well but Jaycee had a feeling he was headed to Carolina.
“When coach Rhule came to my pro day I kind of had an idea and then just talking to him throughout the whole process I had an idea they liked me,” said Horn. “I talked with coach Rhule last night. He called me around 10 and coming in today I was hoping they grabbed me at eight. That was the perfect landing spot for me so it all worked out the right way.”