Leading up the NFL Draft, Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley faced countless questions about his troublesome back, which ultimately caused him to slide back in the first round.
After initially planning to attend the draft in person in Cleveland, the talented cornerback had to cancel his trip after testing positive for COVID-19. Farley said he tested negative on Thursday, however, and believes it could have been a false positive.
On Thursday night, Farley had a big smile on his face, and so did the Titans.
Farley has a new home, in Tennessee.
“This process has been absolutely bizarre for me, but landing in Tennessee has been great,” said Farley, who was wearing a Titans cap on a zoom conference call with reporters. “I thank God. I thank Jesus Christ and my parents. I am just extremely excited to get to Tennessee, and to get to work.
“I am going to give the Tennessee Titans all I’ve got.”
The Titans selected Farley in the first round of Thursday night’s NFL Draft.
Farley, taken with the 22nd overall pick, said he hopes his late mother “is smiling down on me from the sky” because “she always believed in me.”
Heading into the draft, Farley was regarded as a top pick, but the back injury (and a pair of surgeries) put him in a position to land with the Titans, who snatched him up.
At least two draft analysts (Charles Davis and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network) called Farley a “home run” pick for the Titans while saying he might’ve been the top cornerback in the draft if not for questions about his back. Jeremiah called Farley a “freak show” because of his athletic ability.
Titans General Manager Jon Robinson said the team had a lot of meetings with Farley, and the team’s medical staff felt comfortable with where he is from a physical standpoint. The Titans will continue to monitor his health and work to get him on the field “as soon as possible.”
Robinson called Farley a “premium player” on the team’s draft board.
“We are super stoked to have him as a part of our football team,” Robinson said. “He was a fun guy to evaluate on film, extremely competitive. He has excellent size and speed for the position. We talked to several of his coaches at Virginia Tech, who raved about him as a person. He really checked every box for us. He’s going to help our football team.”
Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel said the team is getting an athletic and talented player in Farley.
“I think what stood out to me was the athleticism,” Vrabel said of Farley. “He’s a former receiver who has learned how to play corner and will continue to improve. There’s a certain level of athleticism, smoothness and a lot of fluidity. That is really what stood out, the athleticism.”
In 23 games over two seasons at Virginia Tech, the 6’ 2”, 197-pound Farley had six interceptions. Farley opted out of the 2020 season.
Farley said he was frustrated by all the skepticism, and questions about his back. He said he feels “great” and is excited to get to Tennessee on Friday.
“I have always had a huge chip on my shoulder, and I’ll stay motivated until I hang up the cleats,” Farley said. “Looking back, I just smile, and I thank God, because He never let me let the devil get me down one time during the process. This season I am going to reap the benefits of that.”
Farley believes he’s the best cornerback in the draft, and he wants to “dominate” in the NFL.
Farley, known for his ability to play physical in man coverage, plans to be ready for training camp.
“I feel great, and I can’t wait to get back on the field,” Farley said. “I am a Tennessee Titan; I am in good health; and I am extremely excited about the upcoming season.
“When coach called me to tell me I was going to be a Tennessee Titan, the first thing I said was: When can I get the playbook? I am extremely excited to get back on the field and rep these colors. I am so ecstatic and excited to be a Tennessee Titan. Let’s go!”