Even as a true freshman, the University of Texas Longhorns felt the impact from Caden Sterns. His athleticism and knowledge of the game are what comes out on tape. Despite some injury concerns, Sterns still remains a top 2021 NFL Draft prospect.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some background on Caden Sterns and discover how he found his way to Texas. Next, we’ll turn on some game film and breakdown strengths and weaknesses in his game. Finally, we’ll look ahead to the NFL Draft and work to determine if he should declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Caden Sterns attended Steele High School in Cibolo, Texas, just outside of San Antonio. In High School, Sterns was two-time all-district, as well as an all-American and all-state player. Sterns was a five-star prospect according to 247sports and Rivals. Additionally, 247sports and Rivals had Caden Sterns as the top prospect out of the state of Texas and a top 25 prospect nationally. He had offers from theUniversity of Oklahoma, University of Michigan, and LSU. Prior to selecting the University of Texas, Caden Sterns had originally committed to LSU. In May of 2017, Sterns decommitted from LSU and committed to Texas. He signed his letter of intent in December and officially enrolled in February of 2018.
As a true freshman in 2018, Sterns played and started in 13 games for the Longhorns. He was named the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and was named to the First-Team All-Big 12 team.
Prior to the 2019 season, Sterns was named to the Thorpe Award and Nagurski Trophy preseason watch lists. For the season, we saw Caden Sterns battle through injuries, as he missed four games with various injuries.
As we get ready to potentially kickoff the 2020 season, Caden Sterns is still a highly regarded safety for the University of Texas, despite the injury concerns as he was named to the Bednarik Award preseason watch list.
What I Like About Caden Sterns
Now comes the fun part of scouting as we turn on the game film. I’ve included a couple of clips that I feel best spotlight the strengths in Caden Sterns’ game. I’ll do my best to point out Sterns (Number 7) on each play. For the first clip, we stay in Austin as the Longhorns host Texas Tech.
Football IQ and Change of Direction
Caden Sterns is the safety on the far side of the field for the Texas Longhorns on this play. This clip is very quick and Sterns doesn’t have an impact on the play, but I want to highlight what he does so well here. On the snap, Sterns does a good job of reading the quarterback and drifts towards the middle the field. As the quarterback cocks his arm and prepares to throw, Sterns breaks and provides support over the top, keeping his hips pointed at the receiver and remaining balanced.
At the Point of Attack On Outside Runs
Sterns is on the right side of the screen at the second level on this one. We see a read-option play, which has found a ton of success in the NFL. Caden Sterns does a solid job of defending the play as he is able to use his athleticism and range to break on the running back once the hand-off is executed. To top it off, his ability to make the open field tackle is displayed here as well.
Athleticism and Range
I mentioned this on the previous clip, but Caden Sterns has great athleticism and range for a safety prospect. Below, you’ll see Sterns at the top of the screen. He does a solid job of covering the receiver as the corner breaks on a blitz. Once the quarterback throws to the running back in the flat, Sterns sheds the block and breaks quickly on the block, taking him down for no gain on the play.
What I Dislike About Caden Sterns
As with all of our scouting reports, we like to provide some game film that highlights weaknesses in an NFL Draft prospect’s abilities. Below, you’ll find a few clips that do just that. For the first game, we head to Waco as the Baylor Bears host Caden Sterns and the Texas Longhorns.
Open Field Tackling Ability
You’ll see Sterns at the bottom of your screen below. He does a solid job of breaking on the ball and attacking the receiver running an out route. However, as he approaches his receiver, he overextends and misses on the tackle. Had the corner not been there to help out, the receiver likely would have picked up a good chunk of yardage.
At the end of this play, Sterns suffers a rib injury. However, I just want to look at everything up to that point. Once the receiver turns on the jets and sprints upfield, Caden Sterns struggles to keep up, potentially showing his lack of top end speed. Additionally, I would have liked to see Sterns make more of an attempt to disrupt the catch.
As we get ready to start the 2020 College Football season, and ultimately begin preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft process, Caden Sterns should factor into a prominent role. As it stands, he’s a top five safety in this draft class. If he chooses to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft, he’s a borderline first round prospect.
Paris Ford from the University of Pittsburgh is likely the top safety. However, Hamsah Nasirildeen from Florida State should factor in as a first round prospect. Depending on how the draft board shakes out, it’s possible that we see all three of these prospects heading to NFL teams in the first round.
Ultimately, Caden Sterns is a fantastic safety NFL Draft prospect out of theUniversity of Texas. He plays with great athleticism and range to make plays all across the field. His knowledge of the game and ability to read and process plays quickly also make him a valuable player.
However, I would like to see him improve in a few areas. His abilities in man coverage could be a liability. Despite this, NFL defenses could overcome his shortcomings as they look to play him in certain situations early.