Finding Broncos: Scouting Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II

Finding Broncos scouts the 2021 NFL draft class to find the best Mile High fits. What's the scoop on Patrick Surtain II and how would he fit in Denver?
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Welcome to Finding Broncos, our annual prospect-by-prospect series deep-diving on the coming NFL draft class. The scouting continues with Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II, a player often mocked to the Denver Broncos in the first round. 

Measurables (Pro Day)

  • Height: 6-foot-2
  • Weight: 208 pounds
  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.46 (4.42 unofficial)
  • Vertical Jump: 39 inches
  • Broad Jump: 10-feet-1-inch
  • Bench Press (225 lbs): 18 reps

Stats

Snip

Pros

  • Excellent length
  • Very physical
  • Smooth athlete
  • Stays in-phase throughout the route
  • Strong press coverage
  • Alpha mentality, extremely confident in man-coverage
  • Strong tackler with good form
  • Identifies routes well and doesn’t bite on double moves
  • Good awareness and high football IQ
  • NFL bloodlines shine through in his play

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Cons

  • Press coverage cornerback only
  • Not scheme-versatile
  • Hip fluidity in off-coverage is lacking
  • Relies on his physicality too much, super grabby on the back end
  • Draws a lot of penalties
  • Poor click-and-close
  • Plays slower than he tests
  • Short-area quickness is lacking

Overview

Surtain is a long, strong, and physical cornerback that will excel in a press-coverage scheme where he can use those traits to his advantage. Using exceptional football awareness and that play strength, he overcomes his average hip flexibility in man-coverage to stay in-phase and in the hip pocket of his receiver assignment. 

When in-phase, Surtain is one of the best cover cornerbacks in this class. His physicality shines all the way through the route, and he gets his hands on a lot of footballs. However, he also gets his hands on a lot of receivers and can draw a lot of flags as a result.

Off-coverage is a weakness, as his short-area quickness and he lacks hip flexibility which sees receivers separate with relative ease. While he recovers well, with his football acumen, he lacks the recovery speed to catch back up with the receiver after the catch.

As a tackler in the running game, Surtain has a 'dawg' mentality and definitely isn’t scared to stick his nose in to make a play in space. Using solid form and bringing his well-built frame to deliver nice hits, he is a high-quality tackler in the open field. He squares up to his target and keeps his head up, wrapping up well and doesn’t allow ball-carriers to get away or run him over.

Fit with Broncos

This is a tricky scenario for Denver, because as good as Surtain is in man-coverage, he is equally as bad playing off the ball in zone-coverage, making his fit in Vic Fangio’s defense incredibly sketchy. Fangio prefers to keep his cornerbacks off the ball, using high-quality recovery speed to keep plays in front of them, punctuated with solid tackling. 

While Surtain is a great tackler in open space, his recovery speed and hip fluidity issues lead to plays getting away from him over the middle of the field. However, if Fangio signs off on the scheme fit with Surtain, I wouldn’t mind the Broncos drafting him. 

Surtain is one of the top cornerbacks in the class, and I could get behind him in a Denver uniform, especially if Fangio and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell are jettisoned after 2021 and a new coach arrives with a man-coverage scheme in 2022.

I love the prospect but don’t like the scheme fit. Also, with the Broncos bringing in Kyle Fuller and Ronald Darby in free agency, I can easily see the team passing on cornerbacks early in the draft this year, opting for a better scheme fit in the later rounds with high upside as a developmental player. 

Grade: Round 1

Where he Goes: Top-12

UPDATE: The Broncos passed on two top-rated quarterbacks to select Surtain with pick 9


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