Texas safety Caden Sterns is one of nine Longhorns headed to the 2021 NFL Draft. In a safety class that has a little bit of something for everybody, where does the 2018 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year fit?
Caden Sterns NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Safety
- School: Texas
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 5’11 7/8″
- Weight: 202 pounds
Tony Pauline’s Caden Sterns Scouting Report
Positives: Aggressive safety who is best defending the run. Keeps the action in front of him, quickly picks up assignments, and possesses a solid closing burst. Works well with cornerbacks, stays on the receiver’s hip out of breaks, and is a hard-hitting tackler who brings opponents down at the point. Fast in a straight line as well as laterally.
Negatives: Overcommits to moves, which results in missed tackles. Does not always take proper angles to the action.
Analysis: Sterns flashed skill the past two seasons but also showed inconsistency in his game. He possesses the size, athleticism, and mentality to play any safety position, but Sterns will need a lot of work on his game before he’ll be an every-down defender in the NFL.
Caden Stern’s Player Profile
Born and raised in Cibolo, Caden Sterns has spent his entire journey to the 2021 NFL Draft playing football in the state of Texas. He rose to prominence at Steele High School, where he caught attention early. As a sophomore playing safety, wide receiver, and kick returner, he scored touchdowns with an interception, reception, and punt return.
In his junior season, he helped guide Steele to a State Championship appearance. Showcasing impressive ball skills he secured 3 interceptions, 302 receiving yards, and totaled 8 all-purpose touchdowns. A tough-tackling safety, he also added 82 tackles to his résumé. The result of his impressive all-around performance was a place on the 6A All-State First Team.
Amongst a clamor to secure the best safety in Texas, he once again excelled as a senior. Another 90 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 6 pass breakups, were accompanied by 4 touchdowns as a receiver and punt returner. Another First Team All-State appearance followed, as well as an All-USA Texas Second Team honor. Perhaps most impressively, he earned a spot on the 2017 Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Super Team.
A five-star recruit, the number one player in Texas, and the number one safety in the 2018 recruiting class, Sterns was hot property. With the reputation as “DBU”, it was no surprise that Sterns committed early to LSU. However, some six months later he decided to stay home and committed to play safety for the Texas Longhorns.
Caden Sterns’ college football career at Texas
The playmaking safety made an immediate impact at Texas. In just his second game for the Longhorns against Tulsa, Caden Sterns snagged his first interception. It would be the first of four for the freshman. He added two against TCU before securing his final one of the season against Baylor. The tough-tackling safety also contributed 62 tackles, including 3 tackles for loss, and a sack.
The high school standout had arrived. His play earned him Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year honors and a spot on the All-Big 12 First Team. However, his freshman season ended painfully. During the Big 12 Championship Game, Sterns suffered a knee injury that ended his season prematurely.
Unfortunately for Sterns, he failed to build on the immediate impact he had made as a freshman. Injury would come back to haunt him for the second consecutive season. Another knee injury meant that he would miss four games of the season. Despite this, he almost managed to out-produce his number of tackles with four fewer games of playing time. There was, however, a distinct lack of playmaking production compared to his freshman season.
In his final season as a Texas safety, Sterns returned to some playmaking form, securing an interception against Texas Tech. Once again, however, he battled an injury. He missed his final Red River Rivalry game with Oklahoma after suffering a turf toe injury. Prior to the end of the regular-season finale, Caden Sterns announced his decision to opt-out and declare the 2021 NFL Draft.
Caden Sterns best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Due to his scheme versatility, Texas safety Caden Sterns will have plenty of suitors in the 2021 NFL Draft. He has experience of playing both man and zone coverage in college. Additionally, he has seen time in multiple alignments, only adding to his versatility.
The Washington Football Team and Minnesota Vikings are two teams with pressing needs at the safety position. However, a number of teams will look to add at the position. Given Caden Sterns’ projected mid-round range, he could potentially be a steal for a team that picks him up.
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Oliver Hodgkinson is a staff writer for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @ojhodgkinson.