Tennessee Titans cornerback Caleb Farley has faced an overwhelming amount of adversity throughout his football career. Recurring injuries and setbacks have prevented Farley from reaching his performance ceiling in Tennessee. Farley is officially entering a make-or-break season in 2023.
The Titans decided to double down on an injury-prone prospect after striking gold with Jeffery Simmons in the 2020 draft by drafting Farley with the No. 22 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. When healthy, Farley was considered a top-10 talent and a value pick in the mid-20s. It simply hasn’t worked out that way.
Farley entered the draft after undergoing two back surgeries in college. Lingering back concerns threatened to derail Farley’s first-year availability. The former Virginia Tech standout ended up appearing in three contests as a rookie before suffering a season-ending torn ACL in a victory over the Buffalo Bills. It was the second torn ACL of Farley’s career. It was another injury-related setback for a naturally gifted player. Farley returned to the field in 2022 as a shell of his former self. A slower, rustier version of Farley was truly unplayable for the Titans last season.
Farley appeared in nine games as a sophomore. He was credited with allowing nine receptions on 13 targets, via Pro Football Focus. His overall coverage grade was a lackluster 34.7.
Farley allowed an unheard-of 22.7 yards per reception. Opposing quarterbacks enjoyed a near-perfect passer rating of 151.4 when targeting Farley in coverage. In a blowout Week 2 defeat to the Buffalo Bills, Farley allowed four receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown. In a nightmarish performance against the Washington Commanders mere weeks later, Farley especially looked unprepared for NFL action after giving up an easy 75-yard touchdown catch. He did not play another defensive snap that season.
Farley eventually landed on season-ending IR for a second consecutive year. He then underwent a microdiscectomy on his back after dealing with a herniated disc. Farley has now undergone three surgeries on his back.
The future appears extremely bleak for Farley, but he should receive one final opportunity to meet his pre-draft expectations. The Titans are unlikely to outright release Farley this summer. Doing so would actually cost them approximately $2 million against the 2023 cap. Paying him to go away isn’t fruitful.
Earning back Mike Vrabel’s trust won’t be easy. He’ll enter training camp as low as fifth or sixth on the Titans’ depth chart. Kristian Fulton, Roger McCreary, and Sean Murphy-Bunting are the Titans’ top three cornerbacks. A returning Elijah Molden should factor in at nickel. Even undrafted free-agent Tre Avery outplayed Farley last season. Farley will have to play his way back onto the field.
It’s worth remembering what drew the Titans to Farley in the first place. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Farley was a rocked-up prospect. A perfect fit for Tennessee’s preferred man coverage approach, Farley totaled six interceptions and 25 pass breakups in two years at Virginia Tech. Farley was named All-ACC in 2019 after leading the conference with 16 passes defensed.
Farley’s chances of developing into a quality NFL cornerback are nearing their expiration date. Farley will receive one final opportunity in 2023. It’s now or never.
- Sep 29, 2023
- Sep 29, 2023