Wake Forest CB Caelen Carson may be among the most underrated CB prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft.
How does he project to the NFL level, and what does he still need to improve on before he can reach his ultimate ceiling?
Caelen Carson Draft Profile and Measurements
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 195 pounds
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Wake Forest
- Current Year: Senior
Ever since he arrived at Wake Forest as a true freshman, Caelen Carson — known simply as “Los” to his teammates — has been defying expectations.
As a true freshman, he logged a pick and four pass deflections, making the most of sparse opportunities when they came around. And in 2021 and 2022, he rose to the level of an All-ACC performer.
Across that 2021-2022 stretch, Carson registered two interceptions and 14 pass deflections, earning third-team All-ACC honors as a third-year player in 2022. And so far in 2023, he has five more pass breakups along with a forced fumble.
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Since the summer months, Carson has been presented as a potential sleeper in the 2024 NFL Draft. But what makes his profile so intriguing? More than anything else, it’s his unique ability as a man coverage defender — a niche he fills better than almost anyone in 2024.
Caelen Carson Scouting Report
- Has a lean, well-sized frame with great natural leverage and proportional length.
- Employs hyperactive foot speed, twitch, and recovery athleticism when matching WRs.
- Torrid foot speed and short-area quickness serve as a suffocating force for releases.
- Can suddenly snap into phase and throttle up out of stems to recover leverage.
- Has the explosiveness, reaction speed, and click-and-close to warp to WRs on breaks.
- Snappy hip flexibility allows him to suddenly adjust tracking angles and condense space.
- Tenacious man coverage defender who proactively uses his length to jam and gather.
- Plays up to the physicality of opponents, refusing to let them grate out space at contact.
- Able to maintain discipline with technique and tempo up his footwork to match receivers.
- Can pass off WRs in zone and identify and undercut short passes with keen eyes.
- Able to track and high-point passes with rare body control and imposing authority.
- Showcases a sharp, minute sense of timing with extensions in contested situations.
- Ultimate competitor with laser focus, who’s unnaturally comfortable on an island.
- Has the versatility to play the boundary or the slot and follow top receivers.
- Can instantly recognize and explode downhill against screens, destroying blocks.
- Doesn’t quite have elite vertical speed and can lose a step against faster runners.
- Sometimes halts his feet a bit too early at stems, allowing WRs to drive through.
- With hyperactive foot speed, can sometimes be uncontrolled with his depth.
- At times, plays too tall on his pedal in off-man, which can delay transitions upfield.
- Sometimes gets lost on route exchanges when WRs overlap paths vertically.
- Occasionally gets over-aggressive selling out for picks, and gives WRs opportunities.
- Sometimes merely seeks to obstruct in run support and fails to wrap up as a tackler.
- Doesn’t always have the playing strength to make stops as a solo tackler in space.
Current Draft Projection and Summary
Carson grades out as a borderline top-five CB prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft on my board and a potential Round 1 prospect. He’s one of the most compelling man coverage cornerbacks in the class and has a role waiting for him as an island CB in the NFL.
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At 6’0″, 195 pounds, Carson has a great build with stellar proportional length, and he couples that frame with terse explosiveness, quickness, and snappy fluidity off releases and route breaks.
Carson is one of the most proficient CBs in the 2024 NFL Draft, successively matching WRs with technique and athleticism, then gathering and suffocating them with his biting competitive edge and proactive physicality.
Carson can use two-handed jams to gather and squeeze WRs against the sideline or use well-timed punches to stall their momentum and give himself leverage in 1-on-1 situations. He can recover and close ground with his explosiveness, and at the catch point, he’s an authoritative playmaker with great instincts.
Zone coverage is an area where Carson can stand to improve his consistency, particularly when passing off overlapping routes and redirecting back infield. And in support, while he is tenacious and aggressive, his form can improve at times as well.
Nevertheless, for man-heavy defensive schemes at the NFL level, Carson has the foot speed, explosiveness, technical discipline, fortified physicality, and catch-point conversion ability to be a potential lockdown threat, and he has the versatility to follow WRs across the formation.
NFL Draft Scouting Reports
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