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We saw this coming.

Really, we did. Kind of. The Carolina Panthers drafting Jaycee Horn in the first round wasn’t a surprise.

Wednesday, Jonathan Alexander broke down the case for and against the Panthers taking Horn, the former star cornerback at South Carolina. Thursday morning, it was Scott Fowler explaining why to take a corner (Horn, specifically) with the pick. The surprise, though, was that he went to Carolina at No. 8 and isn’t en route to Charlotte via a trade with someone like New England.

Panthers fans were, um, having mixed emotions about the decision to draft Horn over quarterback Justin Fields, who was still on the board (and would be until the Chicago Bears took him 11th overall), along with Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II (he went to Denver at No. 9). As my dad in Big 12 country texted me as soon as the pick was made, “Who?”

Here’s a snippet of the answer to that question, as provided by our Gamecocks reporter Ben Portnoy out of The State:

He’s the son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn. … Horn started 29 games during his South Carolina tenure, including the first seven contests of the 2020 season. However, in the wake of Will Muschamp’s firing, Horn opted out of the rest of the season to prepare for the 2021 NFL draft. … Horn wowed onlookers at South Carolina’s pro day last month with a 4.37 40-yard dash according to a university press release. His 11-foot, 1-inch broad jump was bested by only five players who competed at the 2020 NFL Combine. … Horn was rated a four-star recruit and the No. 209 player in the 2018 class according to the 247Sports Composite coming out of Alpharetta, Georgia. He was committed to Tennessee before flipping to South Carolina after Butch Jones was fired in Knoxville.

As for what Horn brings to the table, it’s a lot.

Jonathan did a full scouting report on the former Gamecock, and what it boils down to is this: He should be a starter in Week 1, and that’s a job he’s capable of holding onto even after AJ Bouye returns from his PED-related suspension. He was only targeted 24 times last season and allowed eight catches. He’s 6-foot-1, 205 pounds and could lock down SEC receivers.

Tooting our Horn

A huge shoutout goes to The Observer’s Panthers reporters, Jonathan Alexander and Alaina Getzenberg, who were the first to break the news that Carolina was going to draft Jaycee Horn, even while the team still had minutes remaining on the clock to get their pick in.

On the night of the NFL draft, when everyone in the football world is looking for the scoop, they used great sourcing and reporting and broke the story. They’re the go-to source on all things Carolina Panthers, and if you enjoy our coverage and want more, including exclusive information, please consider subscribing to The Charlotte Observer Sports Pass for only 99 cents per month for your first three months.

Panthers Round 1 draft recap

+ Panthers select Jaycee Horn in NFL draft. Here’s why they took him over Justin Fields.

+ Jaycee Horn won’t sell a lot of tickets for Panthers, but he was a risk worth taking

+ Who is Jaycee Horn? What Panthers fans need to know about their top NFL Draft pick

+ Jaycee Horn scouting report: Carolina Panthers get a starting corner in NFL draft

+ Jaycee Horn is the ‘best corner in the draft.’ Panthers fans, NFL players react to pick

+ Panthers were a pick too late for Penei Sewell and a year too early for Justin Fields