Patrick Surtain II versus Jaycee Horn: that seems to be the biggest debate right now in Dallas Cowboys World. The top two corners in the 2021 NFL Draft are thought to be the two biggest contenders for the Cowboys’ 10th overall selection.

Each player has an intriguing case to be the pick for Dallas. Surtain II is a technically-refined defensive back that has been trained to play in the NFL since an early age. Horn is an aggressive and physical corner that isn’t shy about how good he is. Both would bring some important elements to the Cowboys defense.

Dallas cannot really go wrong between these two prospects. The Cowboys are sitting in a very good position entering Thursday night, as it appears that Dallas will have the opportunity to come away with a really good player. Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater is another possibility to be on the board.

That said, the focus is certainly on the two cornerbacks. Surtain II has been the favorite to be the pick for most of the pre-draft process, but Horn’s stock has heated up the closer we get to the draft.

THE CASE FOR SURTAIN

Patrick Surtain II
Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Patrick Surtain II (2) against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Surtain II has long been the favorite to be the Dallas Cowboys’ first-round draft pick for the majority of the draft process. The 6-foot-2, 208-pound Alabama corner was a three-year starter in Tuscaloosa under Nick Saban — a very rare feat in the Crimson Tide secondary.

Surtain consistently matched up with talented wideouts in the SEC and often won the battles. Teams, especially later in his career, often avoided Surtain. When quarterbacks did test him, Surtain made him pay: four career interceptions, including a pick-six in 2020, and 24 passes defended.

A five-star prospect out of American Heritage High School in Florida, Surtain has been prepared to play cornerback in the NFL since an early age. Surtain possesses great athletic bloodlines — his father was an All-Pro and Pro Bowl corner with the Dolphins.

Surtain II is considered to be one of the safest prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft class. His NFL bloodlines, experience playing under Nick Saban, and success against elite competition all lead to a high floor. The Dallas Cowboys cannot really afford to miss on another defender, which makes Surtain II a very real possibility.

THE CASE FOR HORN

Jaycee Horn
Nov 9, 2019; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Jaycee Horn (1) breaks up a pass to Appalachian State Mountaineers wide receiver Thomas Hennigan (5) during the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Whereas Surtain is considered the “safe” and nearly “finished” product coming into the draft, Jaycee Horn still has a lot of room to grow and is only scratching the surface of his potential. The 6-foot, 205-pound defensive back possesses 33-inch arms to go along with a 41.5-inch vertical and a sub-4.4 40-yard dash.

Horn has successful NFL bloodlines, similar to Surtain. Horn’s father, Joe Horn, became a four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver with the New Orleans Saints. The elder Horn was even inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame.

What stands about Horn’s style of play at the cornerback position is his relentless physicality and aggressiveness. Horn thrives in press-man situations, using his size and length to his advantage. The former four-star recruit loves getting into the receiver’s grill and making their life hell on the football field.

Horn believes he is the best player on the field each time he steps onto the gridiron. That is the kind of the confidence that many of the great defensive backs possess. Florida tight end and projected top-10 pick Kyle Pitts said Horn was his toughest matchup on the collegiate level.

Furthermore, Jaycee Horn exceeded against the best of the best in college football. The Georgia native defended the likes of Pitts, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, Elijah Moore, and many more — and more than held his own.

Horn isn’t as a clean of a prospect that Surtain, but the argument can be made that Horn has a higher ceiling than the Alabama corner. Either corner would immediately upgrade the Dallas Cowboys secondary.

Reports have surfaced in the last week that the Cowboys are split between the two corners. The scouts prefer Surtain, while the coaching staff prefers Horn. It would difficult to go wrong with either.

There is also a chance that neither corner is on the board at 10. The Carolina Panthers are reportedly “in love” with Jaycee Horn, per Bryan Broaddus of 105.3 The Fan. The Denver Broncos, meanwhile, have been mentioned as a landing spot for Patrick Surtain II throughout the process.

Assuming at least one is on the board, the Dallas Cowboys would be improving their defensive backfield in a big way by taking either player. Both are ready to step into the NFL and play big roles.

Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn both have compelling cases to the the Dallas Cowboys’ first-round draft pick tonight.

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Featured images via Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sport/Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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