There’s a not-so-fun cycle of being a sports fan. As a kid, your idols are all adults — viewed from far away, and serving as inspiration. The next jump happens in college, when suddenly players entering the league are your age, and it’s kind of neat. In your early twenties it’s still fun, and people slightly younger than you are becoming superstars.
The pivot begins in your late 20s. At this point you suffer the crippling weight of realization that players destined to be millionaires will be more financially successful than you ever will, and they’re a decade younger than you. Now, I’m reaching the final stage: Hilarity. This is when the players you watched as a kid have their own children entering the league. A grim realization of the unstoppable passage of time,
And on that cheery note, I’d like you to share in my grim existential crisis by learning about all the players entering the 2021 NFL Draft who had parents you watch play years ago, and some who entered the league in recent years you may have missed. It’s my hope that you’ll feel terrible about all this when it’s over, because misery loves company.
Patrick Surtain II, CB — Alabama
The highest-rated prospects of the NFL children this class, Patrick Surtain II is, you guessed it, the son of Patrick Surtain. Surtain Sr. played 10 years in the NFL at cornerback for the Dolphins and Chiefs, being named to the All-Pro team in 2002 and 2003.
Surtain Sr. was a highly-rated small-school prospect when he entered the league out of Southern Miss, but his son is a very different player at the same point in his career. A five star recruit who played for Alabama, Surtain II has prototypical size for the modern cornerback position at 6’2, 202 pounds — and is expected to be one of the first defensive backs off the board in the draft.
Unlike his father, who needed to prove himself in the NFL, Surtain II will be expected to enter the league from day one, not just as one of the best defensive backs on his team, but ready to take on a leadership position.
Will he be better than dad?
It’s likely. That’s not a knock on Patrick Surtain Sr, but rather an acknowledgment of just how incredible Surtain II is. Yes, he was on a dominant Alabama team, but between his time in Tuscaloosa and his tutelage under his father we’re going to see a monster in the NFL.
Asante Samuel Jr, CB — Florida State
When you talk about a chip off the old block, this is one heck of a father-son comparison. Asante Samuel Jr. is the exact same height as his dad, and just one pound lighter than his father’s playing weight.
Once seen as a lock first round pick, Samuel Jr. has fallen a little down draft boards after putting in an excellent, but not transcendent final season for the Seminoles, but he’ll still be selected on day two, no question. There are still things he needs to learn to become a true force in the NFL, but that’s really appropriate, considering his dad did the same.
While Asante Samuel was drafted by the Patriots and played four years in New England, most remember him for his time in Philadelphia. The prize of the 2008 free agency class, Samuel quickly signed with the Eagles and became one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.
For three straight years he was named to the Pro Bowl, making the All-Pro team in two of these years. A big-play, ball-hawking cornerbacks, Samuel wasn’t just known for locking down top receivers, but absolutely turning games with big-time interceptions that teams crave.
Will he be better than dad?
Asante Samuel was one of the best defensive players in the entire league for a good chunk of his career. There’s possibility here, but it will require a little humility from Samuel Jr, and a willingness to learn the finer points of playing cornerback in the NFL.
Jaycee Horn, CB — South Carolina
This is a fun case of seeing a son completely flip positions from his father. Everyone knows the great Joe Horn, who played wide receiver in the NFL from 1996-2007, most notably with the New Orleans Saints, but Jacee Horn has become a force of a cornerback at South Carolina.
Similar to Asante Samuel Jr, Horn was once seen as a first round lock but has been sliding lower with concerns whether his game was too based on the ability to make contact with receivers in the college game, which may not translate to the NFL. That sounds a lot more dire than it really is, because Horn will be a day two pick for sure — and would likely start for most teams in the NFL from the jump.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Jaycee adapts to the NFL. Here’s a kid who, presumably, spent many of his formative years covering his dad. That will be interesting to watch. The biggest tragedy of Joe Horn’s career is that he caught on too late. After languishing on the Chiefs’ special teams unit for years, it wasn’t until he arrived on the Saints that he showed his potential — often playing much larger than his 6’1 frame would suggest. A jump ball master, Horn would out-muscle smaller DBs and come down with ball, being a nightmare matchup for opposing defensive coordinators.
Will he be better than dad?
That’s a difficult question considering they play different positions. Joe Horn was a four time Pro Bowler for the Saints, and probably deserved more than he ended up getting — but everything is really on Jaycee Horn as he develops in the NFL. If the metric we’re using is Pro Bowl appearances and All-Pro teams he certainly has a chance, because his dad felt so often like he was on the outside looking in.
Current NFL players with dads who used to play that you might have missed
Jamal Adams, SS — Seattle Seahawks
Son of former Giants and Patriots RB George Adams
Jon Bostic, LB — Washington Football Team
Son of former Lions DB John Bostic
Anthony Barr, LB — Minnesota Vikings
Son of former Eagles RB Tony Brooks
David Buehler, K — Dallas Cowboys
Son of former Raiders G George Buehler
Devin Bush Jr., LB — Pittsburgh Steelers
Son of former Falcons S Devin Bush Sr.
Jairus Byrd, S — New Orleans Saints
Son of former Chargers CB Gil Byrd
Britton Colquitt, P — Minnesota Vikings
Son of former Steelers P Craig Colquitt
Kaden Elliss, LB — New Orleans Saints
Son of Lions DT Luther Elliss
Bryce Hager, LB — New York Jets
Son of former Eagles LB Brit Hager
Charlie Heck, C — Houston Texans
Son of former Chiefs OL Andy Heck
Isaiah Hodgins, WR — Buffalo Bills
Son of former Rams FB James Hodgins
Van Jefferson, WR — Los Angeles Rams
Son of former Cardinals WR Shawn Jefferson
Jon’Vea Johnson, WR — Jacksonville Jaguars
Son of journeyman WR Jason Johnson
Cameron Jordan, DE — New Orleans Saints
Son of former Vikings TE Steve Jordan
Kyle Long, OT — Kansas City Chiefs
Son of former Raiders DE Howie Long
Christian McCaffery, RB — Carolina Panthers
Son of former Broncos WR Ed McCaffery
DK Metcalf, WR — Seattle Seahawks
Son of former Chicago Bears G Terrence Metcalf
Christian Miller, LB — Carolina Panthers
Son of former Giants LB Corey Miller
Thaddeus Moss, TE — Washington Football Team
Son of former Vikings WR Randy Moss
Paul Perkins, RB — Indianapolis Colts
Son of former Colts RB Bruce Perkins
Michael Pittman Jr., WR — Indianapolis Colts
Son of former Buccaneers RB Michael Pittman
Jalen Raegor, WR — Philadelphia Eagles
Son of former Broncos DT Monty Raegor
J.R. Reed, DB — Los Angeles Rams
Son of former Vikings WR Jake Reed
Jon Runyan Jr., OG — Green Bay Packers
Son of former Eagles OT Jon Runyan
Matthew Slater, WR — New England Patriots
Son of former Rams OT Jackie Slater
Irv Smith Jr., TE — Minnesota Vikings
Son of former Saints TE Irv Smith
Billy Turner, OT — Green Back Packers
Son of former Minnesota Vikings RB Maurice Turner
Cedrick Wilson Jr, WR — Dallas Cowboys
Son of former Steelers WR Cedrick Wilson
Antoine Winfield Jr., S — Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Son of former Vikings CB Antoine Winfield
Robert Woods Jr., WR — Los Angeles Rams
Son of former Oilers WR Robert Woods Sr.