2021 NFL Draft Snapshot: Caden Sterns

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40-yard dash: 4.40 | Bench: 14 reps | Vertical: 42” | Broad Jump: 10’ 8”| 3-cone: 6.96 | 20-yard shuttle: 4.13 | The Athletic draft grade: Round 5-6

Measurables: 5-foot-11, 202 pounds

In the fall of 2016, LSU secured the commitment of Cibolo Steele defensive back Caden Sterns. Inside Texas went to San Antonio’s north side to catch up with the five-star safety prospect not too long after his decision, and he told IT how excited he was to play next to future Thorpe Award winner Grant Delpit.

A few months later in May of 2017, Sterns snuck onto UT’s campus for a visit and flipped his commitment several days later. He enrolled early in Austin with other members of Texas’ heralded 2018 defensive back class and immediately became a starter.

Sterns turned in an impressive freshman season with 62 tackles and four interceptions, garnering freshman All-America, Big 12 defensive freshman of the year, and first team All-Big 12 honors in 2018.

From there, his impact never matched his exciting freshman campaign. He was unable to stay on the field as much as Texas needed him in the following two years and did not turn in another five-star caliber season like his first in burnt orange.

Sterns was consistent in 2019 and 2020, but often was found out of place and unable to make tackles when needed. There were still highlights and solid play, like his game winning interception versus Texas Tech in 2020, but those flashes were few and far between compared to his stellar opening act.

As his stat sheet shows, he played in fewer and fewer games in each of his three seasons due to injuries and his 2020 opt out.

Despite not achieving all-conference level play in his final two seasons, Sterns still carries his five-star status, decent statistics, and great timing marks into the NFL draft. His pro day time of 4.40 only helped his case to be selected and become the next member of DBU to join the NFL ranks.

What’s working for Sterns

  • Standout numbers (4.40 forty) at his pro timing day to pair with great safety size
  • Turned in an excellent freshman season
  • Team captain
  • Good at getting to the right spot in both run defense and coverage
  • Still carries the title of being a five-star caliber prospect

What’s working against Sterns

  • Never matched his 2018 season, missed games due to injury and opt out
  • Tackling form often found him diving at ankles
  • One interception over his last two seasons after four in 2018
  • No all-conference caliber seasons after 2018
  • Not a standout in a safety class lacking standouts